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B. N. B. C. 







y<U 67 BLA 


I. , 





O N 

R H E T O R'l C 


BE L L E S L E T T R E S. 

By HUq^ BLAIR, D.D. & F.R. S. Ed. 



VOL. I. 


t O N D O N: 





TH E following Lectures were read 
in the Univerfity of Edinburgh, for 
Twenty -four years. The publication of 
them, at prefent, was not altogether a matter 
of choice. Imperfect Copies of them, in 
Manufcript, from notes taken by Students 
who heard them read, were firft privately 
handed about ; and afterwards frequently 
expofed to public fale. When the Author 
faw them circulate fo currently, as even to 
be quoted in print % and found himfelf ofteir 
threatened with furreptitious publications of 
them, he judeed it to be high time that they 
fhould procedpfirom his own handv rather 
than come into public view under fomc very 
defedive and erroneous form. 

They were originally defigned for the 
initiation of Youth into the ftudy of Belles. 

* Biograpbia Qritanntca. Article, Addisok. 

A ^ Lettres, 



Lettres, and of Gompofition. With the 
fame intention they are now publifhed ; and, 
therefore, the form of Lectures, in which 
they iNtx^tX. fir^ corapofed, is ft ill 'retained. 
The Author ^ives them to the world, nei- 
ther as a Work wholly original, nor as a 
Compilation, from the Writings of. others. 
On every .fubjeft contained in theip, he ha^ 
thought for.hhnf^lf. He confulted his owa 
icjeas ar>d refle(Jlions : and ^ a great piart of 
, what will be found in thefe Ledkures is en- 
tirely his own. At the fame time, he 
availed himfelf of the ideas and i:efle£tions 
of others, as far as he thou^t them proper 
to be adopted. To .proceed in this manner, 
was his duty as a Public Profeflbr. It was 
incumbent on him, to convey to his Pupils 
all the knowledge that could improve them j 
to deliver not merely what j^as;:^new, but 
what might be ufeful, frpm^'^atever quar- 
ter It came. He hopes, that to fuch as are 
ftudying to cultivate their Tafte, to form 
their Styje, or .to prepare, themfelves for 
Public Spe^^kiag or Campofu^op. his Lec- 
tures will afford a more cbmprehcnli ve view 
of 'jf5b^ relates to thefe fubjeaa, thaai, as 



far as he knbWs, ii to be setei^ed from &ny 
4)ne Bdok Id our LanguagQ, 


In order to rendea* his Work of ^greater 
/ieryicc, he has generally referred to th^ 
Books which lie coofulted, as far as he re«- 
members them ; that the Readers might be 
dire^ed to any farther illuftijatioii which 
they afibrd* But,, as fuch. a length of time 
has elapfed tince the firH Compofitionof his 
Leftures, he may, perhaps, have adopted the 
fentiments of fome Author into whofe 
Writings he had then looked, without now 
remembering whence he derived them. 

In the opinions which he has delivered 
concerning fuch a variety of Authors, and 
of literary matters, as come under his con- 
fideration, he cannot expeft that all his 
Readers will concur with him. The fub- 
je£ts are of fuch a nature, as aHow room 
for much diverfity of tafte and fentiment : 
and the Author will refpeftfuUy fubmit to 
the judgment of the Public. 

Retaining the fimplicity of the Lec- 
turing Style, as beft fitted for conveying 



inftru^tton, he lias aimed, in his Language, 
at no more than perfpicuity. If, after the 
liberties which it was neceffary for him to 
take, in criticifing the Style of the moft 
eminent Writers in our Language, his own 
Style Ihall be thought open to reprehenfion, 
all that he can fay, is, that his Book will 
add one to the many proofs already af- 
fcn'ded to the world, of its being much 
eafier to give inftrudion, than to fet 


O P T H E 


L E C T. Page 


!!• Ml Tafie. - - 19 

III. Criticifm — Genius •^Pleafures of 

t ^afti'^Sublimity in ObjeHs. 46 

IV. ^be Sublime in Writing. - -yet 
V. Beauty, and other Pleqfures of Tajle. 100 

VI. Hife and Progrefs of Language. 122 
VII. jRife and Progrefs of Language, and 

^ Writing. - .148 

Vlil. StruSfure of Language. - 173 
IX. Structure of Language — Englijb 

Tongue. - - - 201 

X. Style— >P erf picuity and Precifion. 231 

Xl. StruSure of Sentences. - - 258 

XII. Struffure of Sentences. - 285 

XIII. Struc- 



L E C T. Page 

XII.I. StruSiure of Sentences — Harmony. 313 
XlVr Origin and Nature of Figurative^ 

'Langmge. •- - ► - -^ 343 

XV. Metaphor. - - 372 

XVI . Hyperbole-^ Perfqni^aition — j^po- 

ftrophe. - - 400 

XVII. Comparifon^ Ant i thefts ^ Interroga^ 
tionj ExdatfuUiony and r^otber 
FigUfes if Speech. ' ' - * ' "430 

- ^»* •»• «,*. 

»»». . » • 

. X 

LE C- 

.; /^ 


- •■ , - - I H - *- • ■ / i 

L'E C T U R E L 

irtfcMiiMi'i • • 


ONE of tb^ moft diftinguifhcd pHvi- i e c t. 
leges whicb Providence has conferred 
upon mankind^ is the power of com^ 
municating their thoughts to one another. 
t>eftitute of this power> Reafon would be a 
folitary, and, in fome tneafuire, an unavailing 
principle. Speech is the great inftrument by 
which man becomes beneficial to man : and i^ 
is to the intercourfe and tranfmiOion of though tj 
bf means of fpeech, that we are chiefly 
kidebted foi' th€ improvement of thought 
itfelf. Small are the advances which a fingle 
tinafllfted individual can make towards per*^ 
fbftisg any of his powers^ What we call 
httfiiati reaibii^ is not the effbrc or ability of 
cme^ fo Much as it is the refult of the reafoj| 
of manyi arifing from lights mutually t;om* 
Vol, !• B municated^ 


L E c T. municatcd, in confequcncc of difcourfc and 

It is obvious, then, that writing arid 
difcourfc are objedts intitled to the highcft 
attention. Whether the influence of the 
fpeaiker, or the entertainment bf thef heafer, 
be confulted ; whether utility or pleafurc be the 
principal aim in view, we are prompted, by 
the ftrongeft motives, to ftudy how we rftay 
communicate our thoughts to one anot'her with 
moft advantage. Accordingly we find, that 
in alrriofl: every nation, as foon as langliage 
had extended itfelf beyond that fcanty com* 
municafiori which Was requifite for the fupply- 
of men's necefllties, the improvement of dif- 
courfc began to attraft regard. In the lan- 
guage even of rude uncultivated tribes, we 
cart trace fomc attention to the grace and force 
of tbofc expreffrons which they ufed, when 
they fought to perfuade or to affeft.. They 
were early fenfiblc of a beauty in difcourfe> 
and endeavoured to give it certain decorations 
which experience had taught them it was ca- 
pable of receiving, long before the ftudy of thofe 
decorations was formed into a regular art. 

But, among nations rn a civilized ftatCj na 
art has been cultivated with more care, than 
jhat of language, ftyle, and compofition^ 
The attention paid to it may, indeed, be 



idlbmed aa one mark of the progrefs of fo- l e c t» 

ciery towards its moft improved peilod. For, 

according as fociety improves and flourifhes, 

men adquire more influence over one another 

by means of reafoning and difcourlej and in 

proportion as that influence is felt to ehlarge^ 

it niufl: follow, as a natural cbnfequencc, that 

they Will befliow more care upon the methods 

of eiprefllng their conceptions with propriety 

and eloquence. Hence we fihd, that, in all 

the poliOied nations of Europe, this ftudy has 

been treated as highly important, and has pof* 

feflfed a confiderable place in every plan of 

liberal education. 

Indeed, when the arts of fpeech and writing 
ire mentioned, I am fcnfible that prejudices 
againft them are apt to rife in the rninds of 
Hiaiiyi A fort of art is immediately thought 
of, that is ofl:entatious and deceitful^ the mi* 
nuce and trifling ftudy of words alone j the 
pomp of exprcffion ; the ftudicd fallacies of 
rhetoric j ornament fubftituted in the room of 
ufe. We need not wonder, that, under fuch 
imputations, all ftudy of difcourfe as an art» 
ihould have fuffered in the opinion'of men of 
tinderftanding : and I am far from denying, 
that rhetoric and criticifm have fometimes 
been fo managed as to tend to the corruption, 
rather than to the improvement, of good taftc 
and true eloquence. But fure it is equally 

B 2 pofliblc 


L E c t. partible to apply the principles of reafbn and 
good fenfe to this art^ as to any other that ia 
cultivated among men. If the following 
Lectures have any merit, it will confift in an 
endeavour to fubftitute the application of thefc 
principles in the place of artificial and fchoH 
laftic rhetoric $ io an et>deavour to explode 
falfe ornament, to dircA attention more tO'^ 
wards fubftahce than ihow, to recommend 
good fenfe as the foundation of all good com- 
pofition, and timplicity as eilential to all true 

When entering on the fubjeftj I may be 
allowed, on this occafion, to fuggeft a few 
thoughts concerning the importance and ad- 
vantages of fuch ftudies, and the rank they aF# 
intitled to poifefs in academical education *# 
I am under no temptation^ for this purpofe^^ 
of extolling their importance at the expence 
ef any other department of fclence. On the 
contrary, the flt^y of Rhetoric and Belles 
L^ettres fuppofes and requires a proper ac* 
quaintance with the reft of the liberal arts* 

* The Author was the firit wKjO read Ledlnres on this ftib^ 
jeft in the UnJverfity of Edihburg^h. He beg^n with read* 
ing them in a private chafa^er i» 'the year I7$9« In tb0 
following year he was chofen Vrpkihr of Rhnoric bf ,tkef 
MagiHrates and Town-CQaurU of Bdinbnrgh; imd* in 
1762, his Majefty was pleafed to ere£^ and endow a Pro- 
fedion of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in that Univerfity i 
aid the Author was appointed the ftrft RegiH» Pro£efibr. 

8 It 


It embraces them all within its circlcj and 
recommends them tQ the highefl: regard. The 
firft care of all fuch as wifli either to write 
with repiitation, or to fpeak in public fo as to 
command attention^ mud be^ to extend their 
knowledge i to lay in a rich flore of ideas re« 
Jating to thofe fubjedts of which the occafions 
of life may call them to difcourfe or to write, 
Heocej among the ancients^ it was a funda- 
mental |)riiicipl€j and frecjuently inculcated, 
'^ Q^od omnibus difciplinis et artibus debet 
'* effe iftftru^tus orator/' that the orator 
ought to be an accompliihed fcholao ^nd 
converfant in every part of learning. It is 
indeed impoflible to contrive an art^ and very 
perAiCious it w^re if it could be contrived^ 
which fhould give the ftamp of merit to any 
compofition rkh or fplendid in expreffion, but 
barren or erroneous in thought. They are 
the wretched attempts towards an art of thi« 
kind which have fo often difgraced oratory, 
arid debafed it below its true ftandard. The 
graces of compofitioni have been employed to 
difguife or to fupply the want^f matter ^ and 
the temporary applaufe of the ignorant has 
been courted, inftead of the lafting approba- 
tion .of the difeerning. But fuch impofture 
^an fiever maintain its ground long. Know- 
ledge and fcience muft furniih the materials 
that form the body and fubftancc of any vj^^ 
tuable Gompofnion, Rhetoric ftrves %o add 

5 3 ^^^ 


t E c T. the polifti ; and we know that fione but firm 
and folid bodies can be poliihed well. 

Of thofe who perufe the following Lcftures, 
fome, in confequence cither of their profef- 
fion, or of their prevailing inclination, may 
have the view of being employed in compofi- 
tion. Or in public fpeaking. Others, without 
any profpeft of this kind, may wilh only to 
improve their tafte with refpeft to writing and 
difcourfe, and to acquire principles which will 
enable them to judge for themfelves in that 
part of literature called the Belles Lettres. 

With refpeft to the former, fuch as may 
have occafion to communicate their feiiti- 
ments to the Public, it is abundantly clear 
that fome preparation of ftudy is requifite for 
the end which they have in view. To fpeak 
or to write perfpicuoufly and agreeably, with 
purity, with grace and ftrength, are attain- 
ments of the utmoft confequence to all who 
purpofe, either by fpeech or writing, to ad- 
drefs the Public. For without being mafter 
of thofe attainments, no man can do juftice to 
his own conceptions 5 but how rich foever he 
may be in knowledge and in good fenfe, will 
be able to avail himfelf Icfs of. thofe treafures, 
than fuch as poflefs not half his ftore, but who 
can difplay what they poflefs with more pro^ 
pricty. Neither are thefc attainments of that 



kind for which we are indebted to nature 
merely. Nature has, indeed, eooferred upon 
fomc a very favourable diftinftion in this re- 
fpeft, beyond others. But in thefe, as in 
moft other talents (he beftows, ftie has left 
much to be wrought out by every man'^ owa 
induftry. So confpicuous have been the ef- 
fe<5ls of ftudy and improvement in every part 
of elocjuence 5 fuch remarkable examples have 
appealed of perfons furmounting, by their di-. 
ligence, the difadvantages of the mod un- 
toward nature, that among the learned it has 
long been a contefted, and reiTwins ftill an un- 
decided point, whether nature or art confer 
moft towards excelling in writing and difr 

With refpeft to the manner in which art 
can moft effectually furnifh afliftancc for fuch 
a purppfe, there may be diverfity of opinions. 
I by no means pretend to fay that mere rheto- 
rical rules, how juft foever,. arc fufficient to 
form an orator. Suppofing natural genius to 
be favourable, more by a great deal will de- 
pend upon private application and ftudy, than 
upon any fyftem of inftru6lion that is capable 
of being publicly .communicated. But at 
the fame time, though rules and inftruftions 
cannot do all that is requifite, they may, how- 
ever, do much that is of real ufe. They can- 
not, it is true^ infpjre genius -, but they can 

B ^ dire(5l 


dircft and affift it. They cannot remedy 
barrennefs 5 but they may correct redundancy. 
They point out proper models for iynttation* 
They bring into view the chief beauties that 
ought to be ftudicd, and the principal faults 
that ought tq be avoided ; and thereby tend 
to enlighten tafl:e> and to lead genius fronn 
unnatural deviations^ into its proper channel. 
What would not avail for the produAion of 
grejft excellencies, may at l^aft fervc to pre- 
vent the commiilion of confiderablc errors. , 

All that regards the ftudy of eloquence and 
compofition, merits the higher attention upon 
this account, that it is intimately conne£bed 
with the improvement of our intelleftuai 
powers. For I muft be allowed to fay, that 
when we arc employed, after a proper man* 
i^cr, in the ftudy of compoiition, we are culti* 
vating reafon itfelf* True rhetoric and (bund 
logic are very nearly allied. The ftudy of 
arranging and exprefling our thoughts with 
propriety, teaches to think, as well as to 
fpeali, accurately. By putting our fenti«> 
ments into words, we always conceive them 
more diftindtly. Every one who has the 
ilighteft acquaintance with compofition knows, 
that when he expreflcs himfelf ill on any fub» 
jed, when his arrangement is loofe, and hi$ 
fentences become feeble, the defeats of his 
ilyle pan^ ^ImpQ; on every occafipn^ be traced 




back to his indiftin6t coBception of the fub- l e c t, 
jeft : fo clofc U the canfieftion between 
thoughts and the words in which they are 

The ftudy of compofition, important in 
itfelf ac all times, has acquired additional im* 
portance from- the tafte and manners of the 
prefenc age. It is an age wherein improve* 
4ncnc&, in every part of fcience, have lj€.en 
proiecuted with ardour. To all the liberal 
grts much attention has been paid ; and to 
oone mor« than to th<i beauty of language, 
and the grace and elegance of every kind of 
writing. The public ear is become refined* 
It will not eafily bear what is flovenly and in* 
correft. Every author mull afpire to Iba^e 
merit in expreflion, as well as in fentiment, if 
he would noit incur' the danger of being nc* 
glcdcd and defpifed. 

I WILL not deny that the love of minute cle- 
gance, and attention to inferior ornaments of 
compofition, may at prefent have engroflfed 
too great a degree of the public regard. It is 
indeed my opinion, that we lean to this ex- 
treme ; often more careful of polifliing ftyle, 
than of ftoring it with thought. Yet hence 
i^riies a new reafon for the ftudy of juft and 
proper compofition. If it be requifite not to 
be (leficient in elegance or ornament in times 



htcT. when they are in fuch high eftimation, it i$ 
ftill more requifite to attain the power of dif- 
tinguifhing falfe ornament from true, in order 
to prevent our being carried away by that tor- 
rent of falfe and frivolous taftc, which never 
fails, when it is prevalent, to fwcep along; 
with it the raw and the ignorant. They who 
have never ftudied eloquence in its principles, 
nor have been trained to attend to the genuine 
^nd manly beauties of good writing, are aU 
ways ready to be caught by the mere glare of 
language ; and when they come to fpeak' in 
public, or to compofc, have no other ftan- 
dard on which to form themfelves, except 
what chances to be fafhionable ^nd popu- 
lar, how corrupted foever, or erroneous, that 
may be. 

But as there arc many who have no fuch 
objefts as either compofition or public fpealc-t 
ing in view, let us next confider what advan- 
tages may be derived by them, from fuch ftu- 
dies as form the fubjedt of thcfe Leftures. 
To them, rhetoric is not fo much a praftical 
art as a fpeculative fcience ; and the fame in- 
ftruftions which affift others in compofing, 
will affift .them in difcerning, and relifhing, 
the beauties of compofition. Whatever en- 
ables genius to execute well, will enable tafte 
^p criticife juftly. 



When we name criticifing, prejudices may t e c t. 
perhaps arife^ of the fame kind with thofe 
which I mentioned before with refpeft to 
rhetoric, As rhetoric has been Ibmctimes 
thought to fignify nothing more than the 
fcholaftic ftudy of words and phrafcs, and 
tropes, fo criticifm has been confidered as 
merely the art of finding faults ; as the frigid 
application of certain technical terms, by 
means of which perfons are taught to cavil 
and cenfure in a learned manner. But this is 
the" criticifm of pedants only. True criticifm 
is a liberal and humane art. It is the off- 
fpring of good fenfe and refined tafte. It 
aims at acquiring a juft difcernment of the 
real merit of authors. It promotes a lively 
relilh of their beauties, while it preferves us 
from that blind and implicit veneration which 
would confound their beauties and faults in 
our efteem. It teaches us, in a word, to ad- 
mire and to blame with judgrpent, and not w 
follow the crowd blindly. 

In ^n age when works of genius and lite^ 
rature are fo frequently the fubjefts of dif- 
courfe, when every one erefts himfelf into a 
judge, and when we can hardly mingle in po- 
lite ibciety without bearing fome (hare in fuch 
difcuffions ; ftudies of this kind, it is not to 
be doubted, will appear to derive part of 
fbeir importance from the ufc to which they 



h t c T, may be applied in furnifliing materials for 
thofc faftiionable topics of difcourfe, and there- 
by enabling us to fupport a proper rank in 
focial life. 

But I fhould be forry if we could not reft the 
merit of fuch ftudies on fomewhat of folid and 
intrinfical ufe, independent of appearance and 
fhow. The exercife of tafte and of found cri- 
ticifm, is in truth one of the moft improving 
employments of the underftanding. To ap- 
ply the principles of good fenfe to compofi* 
tioh and djfcqurfe ; to examine what is beau* 
tiful, and w!^y it is foj to e,mploy ourfelve$ 
in diflinguifliing accurately between the fpc- 
cious and the folid^ between affeded and na« 
tural ornament, muft certainly improve us not 
^ little in the moft valuable part of all philo-> 
fophy, the philofophy of human nature. JFor 
fuch difquifitlons are vctry ilitimately conneded 
with the knowledge of ourfelves. They ne- 
ccflarily lead us to refledl on the operations of 
the imagination, and the movements of the 
heart; and increafe our acquaintance with 
fome of the moft refined feeUng$ which belong 
to our frame. 

Logical and !|^thical difquiGtions niove in 
a higher fphere -, and arc converfant with ob- 
jefts of a more fevere kind j the progrefs of 
the underftanding in its feargh after know- 


ledge» and the diredion of the will in the 
proper purfutt of good. They point out to man 
the improvement of his nature as an intelligent 
being.; and his duties as the fubjeft of moral 
obligation. Belks Lettres and' criticifm chieB/ 
confider hioi as a Being endowed with thofe 
powers of tafte and imagination^ which were 
intehdi^d to embelliih his niind^ and tofu^ly^ 
him with rational and ufeful entertainments 
They open a field of inveftigation peculkr to 
themfelves. All that relates to beauty, hat • 
mony^ grandeur, .and elegance; all that can 
footh the mind, gratify the fancy, or move 
the afFe6tions, belongs to their province. 
They prefent human nature under a different 
|Upe& from that which it aflumes whtn viewed 
by otber fcieqces. They bring to light va- 
rious, fprings of adion, which, without their 
a«4> might have paffed unobfervtd ; and whichi 
though' of a delicate nature, frequently exert 
a powerful influence oti feveral departments 
of JscUtnan lifr^ 

Suc^li ftudies have alfo this peculiar aclvan-< 
tagCi that they exercife our reafon without fa- 
tiguing it. They lead to enquiries acute, but 
hot painfdis profound, but not dry nor ab-« 
ftrufe.. They ftrcw flowers in the path of 
fciencej and while tbey keep the mind btnt, 
in Som^ degree, and a^ive, tbey relieve it at the 
£imc tinnc from that more toilfomc labour to 



L E c T. which it muft fubmit in the acquifkion of he-* 
ceflary erudition, or the inveftigation of ab-* 
ftra£l: truth. 

The cultivation of taftc is farther recom-* 
mended by the happy cfFefts which it natu- 
rally tends to produce. on hunian life. The 
moft Irufy man, in the moft aftive fphere, 
cannot be always occupied by bufinefs. Men 
of ferious profeffions cannot always be on the 
ftretch of ferious thought. Neither can the 
moft gay and flouri filing fituations of for-* 
tune afford any man the power of iilling all 
his hours with pleafure. Life muft always 
languifb in the hands of the idle. It will 
frequently languifti even in the hands of the 
bufyj if they have not fome employment fub- 
fidiary to that which forms their main purfuit* 
How then fhall thefe vacant fpaces, thofe un- 
employed intervals^ which, more or lefs> 
occur in the life of every one, be filled up ? 
How can we contrive to difpofe of them in 
any way that fliall be more agreeable in itfelf, 
or more confoiiant to the dignity of the hu- 
man mind, than in the entertainments of taftc> 
and the ftudy of polite literature ? He who is 
fo happY as to have acquired a relifli for thefe, 
has always at hand an innocent and irre« 
proachable amufement for his leifure hours, to 
fave him from the danger of many a perni- 
cious ^pafllon. He is not in hazard of being 

a burden 


H burden to himfelf. He is not obliged to flj^ i* e c t* 
to low company, or to court the riot of loofc 
pleafures, in order to cure the tedioufnefs of 

pROVinzNCE fcems plainly to have pointed 
cut this ufeful purpofe to which the pleafures 
of tafte may be applied, by interpofing them 
in a middle ftation between the pleafures of 
knki filnd thofc of pure intelleft. We were 
not defigned to grovel always among objedls 
fo low as the former ; nor are we capable of 
dwelling conftantly in fo high a region as the 
latter. The pleafures of tafte refrefli the 
mind after the toils of the intelleft, and the 
labours of abftraft ftudy ; and they gradually 
raifc it above the attachments of knf^, and 
prepare it for the enjoyments of virtue. 

So confonarlt is this to experience, that, in 
the education of youth, no objeft has in every 
age appeared more important to wife men, 
than to tinfture them early with a relifh for 
the entertainments of tafte. Tht tranfition is 
commonly made with eafe from thefe to the 
difcharge of the higher and mdre Important 
dutie$ of life. Good hopes may be enter- 
tained of thofe whofe minds have this liberal 
and elegant turn. It is favourable to many- 
virtues. Whereas, to be entirely devoid of 
rclifli for cloquence,^ poetry, or any of the 




fine art^, is juflrly conftrued to be an unpfd<» 
mifing fymptom of youth 5 and raifcs fufpU 
cions of their being prone to low gratifica^ 
tions^ or deftined to drudge in the more vul* 
gar and illiberal purfuits of life. 

There are indeed few good difpoHtions o£ 
any kind with which the improvement of tafte 
is not more or lefs connected. A cultirated 
tafte tncreafes fenfibility to all the tender and 
humane pafTions^ by giving them frequent 
cxercife ; while it tends to weaken the more 
violent and fierce emotions. 

•— — Ingenuas didiciile fideliter artes 
EmoHit mores, ncc finit cfle feros *• 

The elevated fentiments and high examples 
Which poetry, eloquence and hiftory are often 
bringing under our view, naturally tend to 
nourifh in our minds public fpirit, the love 
of glory, contempt of external fortune, and 
the admiration of what is truly illuftrious and 

I WILL not go fo far as to fay th^t the iiti« 
provement of tafte and of Virtue is the fame 1 
or that they may always be expefted to co^ 
cxift in an equal degree. More powerful cor- 
rectives than tafte can apply, arc neccflary fof 

^ Thefe poIiihM arts have huxnanit'd mankind^ 
Softened clir ftidf , and calm'd the boifl'roas inrnd. 




;-eforming the corrupt propenfities which too 
frequently prevail among mankind. Elegit 
/peculations a;re fometimes found to float on 
the furface of the mind, while bad paffions 
pofTefs the interior regions of the hejirt, At 
the fame time this cannot but be admitted, 
that the exercife of tafte is, jn its native ten- 
dency, moral and purifying. From reading 
•the moft admired produ6tions of genius, 
whether in poetry or profe, almoft every one 
rifes with fome good impreffions left on his 
rnind;. and though diefe may not always be 
durable, they are at leaft to be ranked a^riong 
the means of difpofing the heart to virtue. 
One thing is certain, and I (hall hereafter 
have occafion to illuftrate it more, fully, that, 
without poffeffing the virtuous afFedions in a 
ftrong degree, nO man can attain emi'nence in 
the'fublime parts of eloquence. He muft feel 
what a good man feels, if he expefts greatly 
to move, pr to intereft mankind. They are 
the ardent fentiments of honour, virtue, mag- 
nanimity, and public fpirit, that only can 
kindle that fire of genius, and call up into the 
mind thofe high ideas, which ^ttra6l the ad.- 
miration of ages j and if this fpirit be necef- 
fary to produce the moft diftinguiftied efforts 
of eloquence, it muft be neceflary alfo to our 
relifhing them with proper taftf^ and feeling. 

Vol,. I, C. Q»? 





Oh thefe general topics T (hall dwell no 
longer} but proceed diredlly to the confidera- 
tion of the fubjcfts which are to employ the 
following Leftures. They divide themfelves 
into five parts. Firft, fome introduftory dif- 
fcrtatjons on the Nature of Tafte, and upon the 
fources of its pleafures. Secondly, the con- 
fideration of Language : Thirdly, of Style : 
Fourthly, of Eloquence properly fo called, or 
Public Speaking in its different kinds. Laftly, 
a critical examination of the moft diftinguifh- 
td Species Of Cpmpofition, both in profe an4 


"^"^T^T^T^TI^THTHrTn^T^TTTTCrTr^THj uf"! - iT 

■Willi « t I » 



THE nature of the prcfeht undertaking l e c t. 
leads me to begin with fome enquiries 
concerning Tafte, a$ it is this faculty which is 
always appealed to in difquifitions concerning 
the merit of difcourfe and writing. 

There are few fubjefls on which men talk 
more lobfely and indiftinftly than on Tafte ; 
few which it is more difficult to explain with 
precifionj and none which in this Courfe of 
Leftures will appear more dry or abftraft. 
What I have to fay on the fubjeft (hall be in 
the following order. I fhall firft explain the 
Nature of Talle as a power or faculty in the 
human mind. I fliall next confider how far 
it is an improveable faculty. I Ihall^fliew 
the fources of its improvement, and the cha* 
rafters of Tafte in its moft perfeft ft ate. I 
fliall then examine the various fluftuations to 

C 2 which 

to TASTE. 

which It is liable, and enquire whether there 
be any ftandard to which wc can bring the dif* 
ferent taftes of men, in order to diftinguifll 
the corrupted from the true. 

Taste may be defined " The .power, of 
*^ receiving pleafure from the beauties of na- 
^' ture and of art." The firft queftion that 
occurs concerning it is, whether it is to be 
confidered as an internal fenfe, or as an exer- 
tion of reafon ? Reafon is a very general term; 
but if we underftand by it, that power of the 
mind which in fpeculativc matters difcovers 
truth, and in practical matters judges of the 
fitnefs of means to an end, I apprehend the 
queftion may be ealily anfwered. For nothing 
can be more clear, than that Tafte is not re- 
folveable into any fuch operation of Reafon. 
It is not merely through a difcovery of the 
underftanding, or a deduftion of argument^ 
that the mind receives pleafure from a beaqtir 
ful profpeft or a fine poem. Such objefts 
often ftrike us intuitively, and make a ftrong 
impreflioni when wc are unable to afBgn the 
reafons of our being pleafed. They fome- 
times ftrike in the fame manner the philofo-* 
pher and the pcafaat ; the boy and the man* 
Hence the faculty by which we relifli fbch 
beauties, fcems more nearly allied to a 
feeling of fenfe, than to a procefs of the un- 
derftanding ; and accordingly^ from an exter- 

*P A S T B* 2t 

twl ftnfe it has boFrowed its^ name; that fcnfc 
■by which we receive and diftinguiih the plea- 
fures of food having, in feveral languages, 
given rife to the word Tafte in the metapho- 
rical meaning under which we now confider iCi 
However, as, in all fubjefts which regard the 
operations of the mihd, the inaccurate ufe of 
words is to be carefully avoided, it muft not 
be inferred from what I have faid, that Reafon 
is entirely excluded from the exertions of 
Tafte. Though Tafte, beyond doubt, be ul- 
timately founded on a certain natural and in-^ 
ftinftive.fenfibility to beauty, yet Reafon, as t 
ihall (hew he;-eafter, aflifts Tafte in many oF 
its operations, and ferves to enlarge its 
power *. 

TASTEi in the lenle in which 1 have ck- 
plained it, is a faculty common in fome de- 
gree to all men. Nothing that belongs to 
human nature is more general than the relifh 
6rbiatity of one kind or othef ; of what is or- 
:derly, proportioned, grand, harmonioi x, new, 
" or. fprightly. In children, the rudiments of 

* Sec Dr. Gerard's Eflay on Taftck— D'Alcmbert's Re- 
fledions on the ufe and abufe of philofophy in matters 
which relate to l*afte.— ^-Reflexions Critiques fur la poeHe 
et fttr la peitaturej tome ii. ch. zt-^ii. Elements of 
Criticifm, chap. 25. -^^Mr. Hume's £flay oXk the Standard 
•f Tafle. — Introdudlion to the EiTay on the Sublime and 
BeaunfuK .. 

C 1 Tafte 

2z T A S 'f fi. 

L £ c-T. Tafte difcovcr themfelves very early in d thoif^ 

fand inftancesi in their fondnefs for regula^ 

bodies, their admiration of piftures artd fta* 

tues, and imitations of all kinds; and their 

ftrong attachment to whatever is new or mar* 

vellous. The nfioft ignorant peafants are de*- 

lighted with ballads and tales, and are ftruck 

with the beautiful appearances of nature iii 

the earth and heavens. Even in the defarts 

of America, where human nature (hews itfelf 

in its iTtofl: uncultivated ftate, the favages 

have their ornaments of drefs, their war and 

their death fongs, their harangues, and their 

orators. We muft therefore conclude the 

principles of Tafte to be deeply founded in thfe 

human mind. It is no lefs eflential to man 

to have fome difcernment of beauty, than it 

is to pofFefs the attributes of reafon and of 

fpeech *.• 


♦ On the fubjcA of Tafte confidered as a power or fa- 
culty o( the mind, tnoch lc{s is to be found among the 
ancient, than among t'he modern rhetorical and critical 
writers. The following remarkable paflage in Cicefo 
ferves however to fhew, that his ideas on this fubjed agrei^ 
perfeftly with what has been faid above. He k fpeaking 
©f the beauties of flyle and numbers. '' lUud autem ne-' 
^' quis admiretur quonam modo ha^c vulgus imperitorum 
" in audiendo, notetf cum in pmai genere, turn in hoc 
'*" Ipfo, magna qirxdam eft vis» incredibilifque naturae. 
** Omnes enim tacito quodam fenfu, fine uUa arte aut ra^ 
** tione, quae iint in artibus de rationibus reda et praya 
" dijudicant : idque cum faciunt in piduris, et in iignis,. 

'I* A S f E. i$ 

But although none be wholly devoid of this i e c t. 
foculty, yet the degrees in which it i$ poffefled 
are widely differe^it. In fomc men only the 
fe^eblc glittimerings of Taftc appear ; the 
beauties which they reiifh are of the coarfeft 
kind ; and q( thefe they have but a Weak and 
confufcd impreffion : while in other^i Ta,ft^ 
rifes to an acute difccrnment, and a lively en- 
joyoient of the moft refined beauties. In ge-^ 
ncral, we may obfcrvt, tJiat ia the powers and 
pleasures of Tafte, there is -^ more remarks- 
able inequ^ity among O^en^ than is ufually 
foujid^ in point of commoxi fenfei reafon, and 
judgmeixt. The cojiftitution of our nature iri 
diis, as in .all other refpedts, difcovers admi- 
rable jsrifdom* Jft the diftribution of thofe 
talisijts which are neceffary for man's well- 

*^ et in ^Tiis operibus, ad quorum intelligentiaih a tiatcrra 
*' micittfi babeot inftrumentii turn muho oflendunt magiai 
'' in verboruiDi numerorum, vociimque jadicio ; quod ea 
''.funt in cpmmunibus iniixa fenfibus; neque earum re- 
'* rpm quenquait) funditiis natura voluit efTe expertem.'^ 

Cic. dcOrat. lib. iii. cap. 5©. Edit. Gruteri. Quindli- 

liflfi feefhs to include Tafte {for which^ in the fenfe which 
Vx now give to that word, the antients appear to have had 
iio.diilin^ naaie) under what he calls judicium. '' Locud 
** de judicio, mea quidem opinione adeo partibus hqjus 
** operis omnibus conne£tus ac miftus eft, ut ne a fen*^ 
** tentiis qnidem aut verbis faltem fingulis poftit feparari, 

^' nee 4nagis arte traditur quam guftus aut odor, Uc 

'^ cootfiarja vitemus et communia, ne quid in eloquendo 
'' corruptum obfcurumque Ht, referatur.oportet ad fenfus 
*' qui 4ion docentur.^' Inftitut. lib. vi. cap. 3. £dic« 

C 4 being, 


being, Nature hath made lefs diftinftfoil 
among her children. But in the diftribution 
of thofe which belong only to the ornamental 
part of life, (he hath beftowed her favours 
with more frugality. She hath both fown the 
feeds more fparingly -, and rendered a highef 
culture requifite for bringing them to per- 

• This inequality of Tafte imong men is 
owing, Without doubt, in part, to the different 
frame of their natures ; to nicer organs, and 
finer internal powers, with tvhich fome are 
endowed beyond others. But, if it be owing 
h) part to nature, it is owing to education and 
culture ftill more. The illuftration of this 
feads to my next remark, on this fubjeft, that 
Tafte is a moft improveable faculty, if there be. 
any fuch in human nature i a remark which 
gives great encouragement to fuch i courfe 
of ftudy as we are now propofing to purfue. 
Of the truth of this affertion we may cafily be 
convinced, by only refledling on that immcnfe 
fuperiority which education and improvement 
give to civilized, above barbarous nations, in 
fefincment of Tafte ; and on the fuperiority 
which they give in the fame nation to thofe 
who have ftudied the liberal arts, above the 
rude and untaught vulgar. The difference is 
fo great, that there is perhaps no one particu- 
laj in which thefe two claffes of men are fo far 


1* A S T ft. i| 

removed from' each other, as m refpeA of the 
powers and the pleafurcs of Tafte: and af- 
(uredly for this difference no other general 
caufc can be alligned, but culture and edu* 
cation. — I Ihall now proceed to (hew what the 
means are, by which Tafte becomes fo re* 
raarkably fufceptiblc of cultivation and pro- 

RijFLECT firft upon that great law of our na:- 
ture, that exercife is the chief' fource of im^ 
provement in all our faculties. This holds 
both in our bodily5 and in Our mental powers* 
It holds even in oUr external fenfesj although 
thefe be lefs the fubjeft of cultivation than 
any of our other faculties. We fee how acute 
the fenfes become in perfons whofe trade o^ 
bufihcfe leads to nice exfrtions of them. 
Touch, for inftance, becomes infinitely mor6 
cxquifite in men whofe employment requires 
them to examine the polifh of bodies, than it 
is in Others, They who deal in microfcopical 
obfervations, of are accuftomed to engrave on 
precious ftones, acquire furprifing accuracy 
of fight in difcerning the minuteft objefts; 
and pra&ice in attending to different flavours 
and taftcs of liquors, wonderfully improves 
the power of diftinguilhing them, and of tra-* 
cing their compofition. Placing internal 
Tafte therefore on the footing of a fimple knfe, 
it cannot be doubted that frequent exercifcj 


and curious attention to it$ proper obje<^^ 
muft greatly heighten its power. Of this w€ 
have one clear proof in that part of TiiCte, 
which is called an ear for mufic. Experience 
every day fhews, that nothing is raore im-^ 
proveable. Only the fimpleft ami plaij>eft 
compofitions arc rclifeed at firft; ufe and 
pradice extend our pleafure -, teach us to reliflt 
finer melody, and by degrees enable us to enter 
into the intricate and compounded pleafures of 
harmony. So an eye for the beauties of paiii^t* 
jng is never all at once acquired* It is gradually 
formed by being converfant among piAures, 
and ftudying the works of the beft maftcrs* 

Precisely in the fame manner^ with refpeft 
to the beauty of compofition and difcourfe, 
attention to the iwoft approved models, ftudy 
l>f the beft authors, comparifons of lower and 
higher degrees of the fame beauties, operata 
towards the refinement of Tafte. When one 
is only beginning his acquaintance with works 
bf genius, the fentiment which attends them 
is obfcure and confufed. H^ cannot point 
out the feveral excellencies or blemilhes of a 
performance which he perufes j he is at a lofs 
on what to reft his judgment; all that can bei 
expefted is^ that he fliould tell in general 
tvhether he be pleafed or not. But allow him 
more experience in works of this kind, and 
his Tafte becomes by degrees more exad and 
8 enlightened. 

trtlightenedt He begins to perceive not only l bc t. 
the chArader of the whole, but the beauties 
and dcfcfts of each part ; and is able to de- 
fcribe the peculiar qualities which he praifcs or 
blannes. The mift is diflipated which feemed 
formerly to hang over the objeft ; and he cam 
at length pronoTance firmly, and without hcfi* 
ration^ concerning it. Thus ih Tafte, confi- 
dered asTkiere fenfibility, exercife Opens a great 
foufce of improvement. 

But although Tafte be ultimately founded 
on fenfibility, it muft not be confidered as in- 
ftinftive fenfibility alone* Reafon and good 
icnfe, as I before hinted, have fo cxtenfive an 
influence on all the operations and decifiona 
of Tafte, that a thorough good Tafte may 
well be confidered as a power eoncipounded of' 
natural fenfibility to beauty, and of improved 
underftanding. In order to be fatisfied of 
this, let us obferve, that the greater part of the 
^roduAions of genius arc no otlier than imi-* 
tations of nature j reprefentations of the cha- 
rafters, aftions, or manners of men. Th€ 
pleafure we receive from fuch imitations or 
reprefentations is founded on mere Tafte : but 
to jtidge whether they be properly executed^ 
belongs to the underftanding, which compare,* 
the copy with the original. 

In reading, for inftance, firch a poem as the 
^neid, a great part of o\ir pleafure arifes from 


tt - t A $ T t. 

the plan or ftory being wdl conduced, and 
all the parts joiiled together with probability 
and due Connexion y from the charadters be- 
ing taken from nature, the fentiments being 
fuited to the charafters, and the ftyle to the 
fentiments. The pleafurc which arifes from z 
poem fo condufted, is felt or enjoyed by Taftef 
as an internal fenfe ; but the difcovery of this 
conduft in the poem is owing to reafon ; and 
the more that reafon enables us to difcover 
fuch propriety in the condudt, the greater will 
be our pleafure* We are plcafcd, througb 
cur natural fenfe of beauty. Reafon Ihcws uS 
why, and upon what grounds, we are pleafeld. 
Wherever in works of Tafte, any refemblanCe 
to nature is aimed at ; wherever there is any 
reference of parts to a whole, or of means t6 
an end, as there is indeed in almoft every writ- 
ing and difcourfe, there the underftanding mufl 
always have a great part to aft* 

Hers then is a wide field for reafon*s exert- 
ing its powers in relation to the objefts df 
. Tafte, particularly with refpedl to compofi- 
lion, and works of genius; and hence arifes a 
fecond and a very.confiderable fource of the 
iaiprovement of Tafte, from the applicatioti 
of Reafon and good fenfe to fuch produdlions 
of genius. Spurious beauties, fuch as unna- 
tural charafters, forced fentiments, afFefted 
ftyl?, may pleafc for a little; but they 



T A S T B. 2j 

pWafc only becaufe their oppofuion to nature l e c t, 
and to good fenfe has not been examined, or 
attended to. Once Ihew how nature might 
have been more juftly imitated or reprefented; 
how the writer might have managed his fub- 
jeft to greater advantage j the illufion will 
prefently be diflipated, ^nd thefe falfe bcautiei 
will pleafe no more. 

From thefe two fources, then, firft, the fre- 
quent exercife of Taftc, and next the applica- 
tion of good fenfe and reafon to the objeds of 
Taile, Tafte as a power of the mind receives 
its improvement. In its perfcft ftate, it is 
undoubtedly the refult both of nature and of 
art. It fuppofes our natural fenfe of beauty 
to be refined by frequent attention to the moft 
beautiful objefts, and at the fame time to be 
guided and improved by the light of the un- 

I MUST be allowed to add, that as a found 
head, fo likewife a good heart, is a very mate- 
rial requifite to juft Tafte. The moral beau- 
Ues arc not only in themfelves fuperior to all 
others, but they exert an influence, either 
more near or more remote, on a great variety 
of other objcfts of Tafte. Wherever the af- 
fedtions, ch'arafters, or aftions of men are con- 
cerned (and thefe certainly afford the nobleft 
fubjffts to genius), there can be neither any 


t A S T E. 

jufl: or afFcfting defcriptioit of thf m, nor any 
thorough feeling of the beauty of that defcrip- 
tion, without our poffeffing the virtuous affec- 
tions. He whofe heart is indelicate or hard^ 
he who has no admiration of what is truly noble 
or praifeworthy, nor the proper fympathetic 
fcnfe of what is foft and tender, mud have a 
very imperfeft relilh of the highcft beauties of 
eloq[uence and poetry. 

The charaftcrs of Tafte when brought to its 
jnoft improved ftate arc all reducible to two,' 
Delicacy and Corre<Sknefs, 

Delicacy of Tafte refpefts principally the 
perfection of that natural fenfibility on which 
Tafte is founded. It implies thofe finer or- 
gans or powers which enable us to difcover 
beauties that lie hid from a vulgar eye. One 
may have ftrong fenfibility, and yet be defi- 
cient in delicate Tafte. He may be deeply 
imprefled by fuch beauties as he perceives ; 
but he perceives only what is in fome degree 
coarfe, what is bold and palpable 5' whil^e 
chafter and Ampler ornaments cfcape his no- 
tice. In this ftate Tafte generally cxifts 
among rude and unrefined nations. Btit a 
perfon of delicate Tafte both feels ftrongly, 
^nd feels accurately. He fees diftinftions 
and differences where others fee none; the 
l^oft latent beauty doe§ npt cfcape him, an4 

TASTE. .31 

he is fenfible of the fmalkfl: blemilh. DelU 
cacy of Tafte is judged of by the fame marks 
that we ufe in judging of the delicacy of an 
"external fenfe. As the goodhefs of the palate 
is not tried by ftrong flavours, but by a mix- 
ture of ingredients, where, notvvithftanding the 
confufion we remain fenfible of each; in like 
manner delicacy of internal Tafte appears, by 
a quick and lively fenfibility to its fineft, mod 
compounded, or moft latent objefts. 

Correctness of Tafte refpefts chiefly the 
Improvement which that faculty receives 
through its connexion with the underftanding. 
A man of correct Tafte is one who is never 
impofed on by counterfeit beauties 5 who car- 
ries always in his mind that ftandard of good 
fenfe which he employs in judging of every 
thing. He eftimates with propriety the com- 
parative merit of the feveral beauties which h^ 
meets with in any work of genius i refers them 
to their proper clafles -, afligns the principles, 
as far as they can be traced, whence their 
power of pleafing flows ; and is pleafed him- 
felf precifely in that degree in which he ought, 
find no rnore^ 

It is true that thefc two qualities of Tafte, 
Delicacy and Corrednefs, mutually imply each 
other. No Tafte can be exquifitely delicate 
without being cof-redt j nor can be thoroughly 



corre£t without being delicate. But ftrJI a 
predominancy of one or other qaiality in the 
mixture is often vifible. The power of Deli- 
cacy is chiefly feen in difcerning the true me- 
rit of a work; the power of Correftnefs, in re- 
jefting falfe pretentions to merit. Delicacy 
leans more to feeling; Corredtnefs more to 
reafon and judgment. The former is more 
the gift of nature ; the latter, more the pro- 
du6t of culture and art» Among the antient 
critics, Longinus poffcfled moll Delicacy; 
Ariftotle, rnoft Gorreftnefs. Among the mo- 
derns, Mr. Addifoq is a high example of deli* 
catc Tafte ; Dean Swift, had he written on the 
fubjcdt of criticilrn, would perhaps have afFor4- 
ed the example of a corre£^ one. 

Having viewie4 Tafte in its moft improved 
and perfe<5t ftate, I come next to confider its 
deviations from that ttate, the fluiSbuations and 
changes to which it is liable ; ^rid to enquire 
whether, in the midft of thefe, there be any 
means of diftinguilhing a true from a cor- 
rupted Tafte. This brings us to the moft dif- 
ficult part of our ^a(k. For it muft be ac- 
knowledged, that no principle .of the human 
mind is, in its operations, more fluftuating 
and capricious than Tafte, lis yariatfons 
have been fo great and frequent, as to create a 
fufpicion with fome, of its being merely arbi- 
trary ; grounded on no foundation, afcert^in- 


Taste. a 

able by no ftandard, but wholly dependent on l e c t. 
changing fancy; the confequence of which 
would be^ that all ftudies or regular enquiries 
concerning the objefts of Tafte were vain. In 
archite6ture> the Grecian models were long 
efteemed the moft perfeft. In fucceeding ages> 
the Gothic architecture alone prevailed^ and 
afterwards the Grecian Tafte revived in all its 
vigour^ and engrofled the public admiration. 
In eloquence and poetry^ the Afiatics at no 
time relifhed any thing but what was full of 
ornament, and fplendid in a degree that we 
(hould denominate gawdy ; whilft the Greeks 
admired only chaile and fimple beauties, and 
defpifed the Afiatic oftentation. In our own 
country, how many writings that were greatly 
extolled two or three centuries ago, are now 
fallen into entire difrepute and oblivion i 
Without going back to remote inftances, how 
very different is the tafte of poetry which pre- 
VaMfi in Great Britain liow, from what pre- 
vailed there no longer ago than the reign of 
king Charles II. which the authors too of that 
time deemM an Auguftan age : when nothing 
was in vogue but an affefted brilliancy of wit; 
when the fimple majefty of Milton was over- 
looked, and iParadife Loft almdft entirely un- 
known; when Cowley's laboured and un- 
natural conteits Were admired as the very 
quinteflenCe of genius ; Waller's gay fprightli- 
nefs was miftaken for the tender fpirit of Love 
VaL, I. D poetry i 

J4 T A S T E. 

I. E c T. poetry ; and fuch writers as Suckling and 
Etheridge were held in efteeoi for dramatic 
Gompofition ? 

The queftion is, what conclufion we are to 
fornn from fuch inftances as thefe 2 Is there 
^ny thing that can be called a ftandard of 
Tafte, by appealing to which we may dif- 
tinguiffi between a good and a bad Tafte? 
Or, is there irt truth no fuch diftinftion j ' and 
arc we to hold that, according to the proverb^ 
there is no difputi'ng of Taftes ; but that what- 
ever pleafes is right, for that reafon that it 
does pleafe? This is the queftion^ and a very 
nice and fubtik one it is> which we arc how t(> 

I BECiM by obferving, that if there be no 
fuch thing as any ftandard of Tafte, this con- 
fcquence muft immediatcry follow^ that all. 
Taftes are equally good; a pofitiony whicli 
though it may pafs unnoticed in flight matters^ 
and when we fpcak of the lefler differences^ 
among the Taftes of men, yet when we apply 
it to the extremes, prefently fhows its ab- 
furdity. For is there any one who will fe- 
rioufly maintain that the Tafte of a Hottentot: 
or a Laplander is as delicate and as corre6t as 
that of a Longinus or an Addifon ? or, that 
he can be charged with no defeft <^r incapacity 

who thinks arommon news- writer as excellent 

. . . • 


*if A S T B. 35 

ih Hiftorian ais Tacitus ? As it would be held 
downright extravagance to talk in this man- 
ner, we are led unavoidably to this conclufion, 
that there is fome foundation for the prefer- 
ence of* oAe man^s Tafte to that of artotherj or, 
that thei^e }s a good and a bad, a right and a 
wrortg in" 'f'afte, asf in other tilings. 

But to prevent tniftakes on this fobjeft, it 
is neceffary to obferve next, that the diverfity 
of Taftes which prevails among nianjkind; does 
not in every cafe infer corruption of Tafte, or 
oblijge us to feck for fome ftandard in order to 
determine who are in the right.' The Taftes 
of men may differ very confiderably as to their 
obje<^, and yet none of them be wrong. One 
man relifhes poetry moft j another takes plea- 
fure in nothing but Hiftory. .One jirefers Co- 
medy; another. Tragedy. One admires the 
fimplc $ another, the ornamented ftylc. The 
young arc amufed with gay and Iprightly 
compoiitions. The elderly arc more enter- 
tained with thofe of a graver caftV Some na- 
tions delight in bold pifiures of manners, and 
ftrong rcprefentations of paffion. Others in- 
cline to more corre& and regular elegance- 
both in d^fcription and fentiment. Though 
all differ, yet all pitch upon fome one beauty 
which peculiarly fuits their turn of mind; and 
therefore no one' has a title to condemn the 
reft.' It is not-in rhatters of Tafte, as in 

D 2 queftions 

3^ T A S T Er 

queftions of mere reaibn^ where there is but. 
one conclufion that can be true> and all the reft 
are erroneous. Truth, which is the objeft of 
reafon, is one ; Beauty, which is the objefi; of 
Tafte, is manifold. Tafte therefore admits, 
of latitude and diverfity of objcfts, in fuffi- 
cient confiftcncy with goodncfs or juftnefs of 

But then, to explain this matter thoroughly, 
I muft obferve farther, that this admiffible di<- 
verfity of Taftcs can only have place where the 
objefts of Tafte are different. Where it is 
with refpeA to the fame objeft that men dif- 
agree, when one condemns that as ugly> which 
another admires as highly beautiful ; then it is 
no longer diverfity, but dire£t oppofition of 
Tafte that takes places and therefore onemuft 
be in the right, and another in the wrong, un« . 
kfs that abfurd paradox were allowed to hold, 
that all Taftes are equally good and true. 
One man prefers Virgil to Homer. Suppofe 
that I, on the other hand, admire Homer 
more than Virgil. I have as yet no reafon to 
fay that our .Taftes are contradictory. The 
other perfon is moft ftruck with the elegance 
and tendernefs which are the charafterifticr 
of Virgil ; I, with the fimplicity and fee of 
Homer. As long as neither of us deny that 
both Homer and Virgil have great beauties, 
our difference falls witbm the compafs of 



that divcrfity of Taft^s, which I have (hewed 
to be natural and allowable. But if the other 
man Ihall affert that Homer has no beauties 
whatever ; that he holds him to be a dull and 
fpiritlefs writer, and that he would as foon 
perufe any old legend of Knight-errantry as 
the Iliad ; then I exclaim, that my antagonift 
either is void of all Tafte, or that his Tafte is 
corrupted in a miferable degree; and I appeal 
to whatever I think the ftandard of Tafte^^to 
ihew him that he is in the wrong. 

' What that ftandard is, to which, in 
fbch oppofition of Taftcs, we are obliged to 
have rccourfe, remains to be traced. A ftan- 
dard properly fignifics, that which is of fuch 
undoubted authority as to be the teft of other 
things of the fame kind. Thus a ftandard 
weight or meafure, is that which is appointed 
by law to regulate all other meafures and 
weights. Thus the court is faid to be the 
ftandard of good breeding; and the fcripture, 
of theological truths 


When we fay that nature is the ftandard of 
Tafte, we lay down a principle very true and 
juft, as far as it can be applied. There is no 
doubt, that in all cafes where an imitation is 
intended of fome objeft that exifts in nature, 
as in reprefenting human characters or anions, 
fronformity to nature affords a full and diftindt 

P 3 criterion 



L EC T. criterion of what is truly beautiful. Reafon 
hath in fuch cafes full fcope for exerting its 
authority, for approving or condemning j by 
comparing the copy y^ith the original. But 
there are innumerable cafes in which this rple 
cannot be at all applied ; and conformity to 
nature, is an cxpreffion frequently ufed, with- 
out any diftinft or determinate meaning. Wc 
muft therefore fearch for fomewhat that can 
be rendered xnorc clear and prccife, the 
ftandard of Taftp, * 

Taste, a$ I before explained it, is u)ti- 
rpately founded on an internal fcnfe of beauty, 
which is natural to men, and which, in its ap- 
plication to particular objefts, ia capable of 
being guided and enlightened by reafon. 
Now, were there any one pcrfon who poffcfled 
in full perfefStion all the powers of human ,na- 
cure, whofe internal fenfes were in every in* 
ftance ejcquifite and juft, and whofe reafon 
was unerring an4 furc, th^ determinations of 
fuch a perfon concerning beauty^ would, be- 
yond doubt, be a perfeft ftandard for - the 
Tafte of all others. . Wherever their Tafte 
differed from his, it could be imputed only 
to fomc imperfeftion in their natural powers. 
But as there is no fuch living Hansard, no 
one perfon to whom all ipankind will allow 
(uch fubmiflion to be due, what is there of 
fufficient authority to be the ftandard of the 
7 various, 

jrarious ^nd oppofite Taftcs of men ? Moft l e c t. 
certainly thefe U nothing but the Tafte, as 
far as it can be gathered^ of hum^n nature. 
That which men concur the moft in admiring, 
muft be held to be beautiful. His Taftc 
mud: be eftecmcd jull and true, which coin- 
brides with the general fentiments of men. In 
this ftandard we muft reft. To the fenfe of 
mankind the ultimate appeal muft ever lie, 
in all works of Tafte. If any ofie ihould 
maintain that fugar was bitter and tpbaccq^ 
Ivas fwect, no reafonings could avail to prove 
it. The Tafte of fuch a perfon would infal- 
libly be held to be difeafed, merely becaufe 
it differed fo widely from the Tafte of the 
ipecies to which he belongs. In like mannefj 
with regard to the objefts of fentiment or in- 
ternal Tafte, the common feelings of nien 
carry the fame authority, and have a title to 
fegulate the Tafte of every individual. 

But have we then, it will be faid, no other 
criterion of what is beaytiful, than th^ appro- 
bapon of the majority ? Muft we colle£t the 
vi>ices of others, before we form any judg- 
pient for ourfelves, of what deferves applaufe 
in Eloquence or Poetry? By no means 5 
there are principles of reafon and fou^d judg- 
ment which can be applied to matters of 
Tafte, as well as to the fubjefts of fcjence and 
philofophy. He who admires or cenfures any 

D 4 work 

40 TASTE. 

work of genius, is always ready, if his Tafte 
be in any degree improved, to affign fome rea- 
fons of his decifion. He appeals to principles, 
and points out the grounds on which he pro- 
ceeds. Tafte is a fort of compound power, 
in which the light of the underftanding always 
mingles, more or Icfs, with the feelings of 

But, though reafon can carry us a certain 
length in judging concerning works of Tafte, 
it is hot to be forgotten that the ultimate con- 
clufions to which our reafonings lead, refer at 
laft to fenfe and perception. We may fpecu- 
late and argue concerning propriety of con- 
dudt in a Tragedy, or an Epic Poem. Juft 
reafonings on the fubjed will correal the ca- 
price of unenlightened Tafte, and cftablifli 
principles for judging of what deferves praife. 
But, at the fame time, thefc reafonings appeal 
always, in the laft refort, to feeling; The 
foundation upon which they reft, is what has 
been found from experience to pleafe mankind 
univerfally. -Upon this ground we prefer a 
fimple and natural, to an artificial and affefted 
•ftylej a regular and well- connefted ftory, to 
lobfe and fcattered narratives 5 a cataftrophc 
which is tender and pathetic, to one which 
leaves us unmoved. It is from confulting 
our own imagination and heart, and from 
attending to the feelings of others that 


TASTE. 41 

any principles are formed which acquire autho- l e c t. 
rity in matters of Tafte *. 

When we refer to tho' concurring fentiments* 
of men as the ultimate teft of what is to be 
accounted beautiful in the arts, this is to be 
always underftood of men placed in fuch fitua- 
tions as arc favourable to the proper exertions 
of Tafte. Every one muft perceive, that 

* The difFerence between the authors who found the 
ftandard of TaAe open the comraoa ^elings of human na- 
ture afcertained by general approbatipn^ and thofe who 
found it upon eUablifhed principles which can be afcer- 
tained by Reafon^ is more an apparent than a real dif- 
ference. Like many other literary controveriies, it turns 
chiefly on modes of expreffion. For they who lay the 
greateft ftrefs on fenliment and feeling, make no fcrupU 
of applying argument and reafon to matters of Tafte. They 
appeal, like other writers, to eftabliflied principles, in 
judging of the excellencies of Eloquence or Poetry ; and 
plainly ihew» that the general approbation to which they 
ultimately recur, is an approbation refulting from difcuflioa 
as well as from fentiment. They, on the other hand, who, 
in order to.vindicate Tafte from any fafpicion of being arbi- 
trary, maintain that it is afcertainable by the ftandard of 
Reafon, admit neverthelefs, that what pleafes nniv^rfally, 
muft on that account be held to be truly beautiful ; and 
.- that no rules or concluiions concerning objedls of Tafie» 
can have any juft authority, if they be found to contradidl 
^ the general fentiments of men. Thefe two fyftems, there* 
^ fo^e, difter in reality very Uttle from one another. Senti* 

ment and Reafon. enter into both ; and by allowing to eacli 
of thefe powers its due place, both fyftems may be ren4ere4 
eonftftent. Accordingly, it is in this light that I have en* 
j^e^vonred to place the fubjcQ. 


^t ~ *T A S T E. 

among rude and uncivilized nations, and 
during the ages of ignorance and darknefs^ 
any loofe notions that are entertained concern- 
ing fuch fubjefts carry no authority. In thofe 
ftates of fociety, Tafte has no ipaterials on 
"which to operate. It is either totally fup- 
preffed, or appears in its loweft and moft inn- 
perfe6k form. We refer to the fentiments of 
mankind in polifhed and flourifbing nations » 
when arts are cultivated and manners refined s 
when works of genius arc fubjcdted to free 
difcuflion, and Tafte is improved by Science 
and Philofophy. 

Even among nations^ at fuch a period of 
fociety, I admit, that accidental caufes may 
occafionally warp the proper operations of 
Tafte ; fometimes the ftate of religion, fome- 
times the form of government, may for a 
while pervert it 5 a licentious court may in- 
troduce a tafte for falfe ornaments, and diflb- 
lute writings. The ufage of one admired 
genius may procure approbation for his faults, 
and even render them falhionable. Sometimes 
envy may have power to bear down, for a 
little, produftions of great merit j while po- 
pular humour, or party fpirit, may, at pthcr 
times, exalt to a high, though Ihort-lived, 
reputation, what little deferved it. But thpugh 
fuch cafual circumftances give the appearance 
pf caprice to the judgnpents of Tafte, that 



' V. ' ' I:- 

sppear^ce is eafily corrcft,ed. In the courfe l e q t. 

of time^ the genuine tafte of human nature 
never fails to difclofe itfelf, and to gain the 
ffcendant over any fantaftic and corrupted 
modes of Tafte which may chance to have 
been introduced. Thcfe may have currency 
fof a while, and miflead fuperficial judges i 
but being fubjcftcd to examination, by de-: 
grees they pals away ; while that alon,e rem^j^s 
which is founded op fpfJod reafon, apd the 
native feielings pf n)cn. 

I BY no nieans pretend, that there is any 
ftandard of Tafte, to which, in every particular 
inftance, we can rcforf for clear and immediate? 
determination. Where, indeed, is fuch a ftand- 
ard to be found for deciding any of thpfe great 
controverfies in rcafon and philofop^y, which 
perpetually divide mankind ? In the prefent 
cafe, there was plainly no occalion for any fqch 
ftri£t and abfolute provifiion to be made. In 
order to judge of what is morally good or evil, 
of what rnan ought, or ought not in duty to do, 
it was fit that the me^ns of clear and precife 
determination ihould be afibrded us. But to 
^fc^rtain in eyery caff with the ptmoft exaft* 
nefs what is beautiful or elegant, \^a? npt af 
all neceffary to fl)C h^ppinefs qif tn^n. And 
therefore fome diverfity in feeling was here 
gllpvjred tp take pl^cp i and room was left for ' 
difcuflTipn and debate, concerning the degrep 

■' ; of 

44 TASTE. 

L E c T. of approbation to which any work of genius is 

The conclufion, which it is fufficient for us to 
reft upon, is, that Tafte is far from being an ar- 
bitrary principle, which i^ fubjcft to the fancy 
of every individual, and which admits of na 
criterion for determining whether it be falfc or 
true. Its foundation is the fame in all human 
minds. It is built upon fentiments and per- 
ceptions which belong to our nature ; and 
which, in general, operate with the fame 
uniformity as our other intelledual principles. 
When thefe fentiments are perverted by igno- 
rance and prejudice, they are capable of being 
reftified by reafon. Their found and natural 
ftate is ultimately determined, by comparing 
them with the general Tafte of mankind. Let 
men declaim as much as they pleaie, concern* 
ing che caprice and the uncertainty of Tafte, it 
is found, by experience, that there are beauties, 
which, if they bedifplayed in a proper light, have 
power to command lafting and general admi- 
ration. -In every compbfition, what interefts 
the imagination^ and touches the heart, pleafes 
all ages and all nations. There is a certain 
ftring, to which, when properly ftruck, the 
hunfian heart is fo made as to anfwer. 

Hence the univerfal teftimony which the 
{noft improved nations of the earth have con« 


TASTE. 45 

fpiredj throughout a long tradt of agesj to 
give to fomc few works of genius j fuch as 
the Iliad of Homer, and the -ffilneid of Virgil/ 
Hence the authority which fuch works have 
acquired, as ftandards, in fome degree, of 
poetical compofition ; fince from them we are 
enabled to coiled what the fenfe of mankind 
is, concerning, thole beauties which give them 
the higheft pleafure, and which therefore 
poetry ought to exhibit. Authority or pre- 
judice may, in one age or country, give a 
temporary reputation to an indifferent poet, 
or a bad ar tift ; but when foreigners, or when 
pofterity examine his works, his faults are 
difcerned, and the genuine Tafte of human 
nature appears. '^ Opinionum commenta delet 
*^ dies ; naturae judicia confirmat." Time 
overthrows the illufions of opinion, but cfta- 
blilhes the decifions of nature. 

r~M ♦<.*»«» •».»•«.• 


} r " 

<* -• S *^ /■.-«. » t 


f ' 

Criticism. — ^Genius.-^Pleasurds of 
Taste. — ^Sublimity in Objects. 

rr^'ASTE^ Crlticifm, and Genius, are words' 
X currently employed, without diftindt 
ideas annexed to theni. In beginning a courfe. 
of Lefturcs where Aich words muft often oc- 
cur, it is rieceffary to afcertain their nieaning 
with fome precifion. Having iii the laft 
Ledture treated of Taftc, I proceed to explain 
the nature and foundation of Criticifm. True 
Criticifm' is the application of Tafte and of 
good fenfe to the feveral fine arts. . The 
objedt which it propofes is, to diftinguifli 
what is beautiful and what is faulty in every 
performance \ from particular inftances to 
afcend to general principles j and fo to form 
rules or conclufions concerning the feveral 
kinds of beauty in works of Genius. 

The rules of Criticifm are not formed by 
any iqduflion, a pmri, as it is called ; that 



Is, they att ridt formed by a train of abftraft l e c f. 
reafoning, independent of fafts and obferva- 
tions. Criticifm is an art founded wholly on 
experience 5 on the obfervation of fuch beau- 
ties as have come neareft to the ftandard which 
I before eftabliflied 1 that is, of fuch beauties 
as have been found to pleafe mankind moft 
generally. For example; Ariftotle's rules 
concerning the unity of aftion in dramatic 
and epic compofition, were not rules firfl: dif- 
covered by logical reafoning, and then applied 
t6 poetry ; but they were drawn from the 
praftice of Homer and Sophocles : t'hey were 
founded upon obferving the fuperior pleafure 
which we receive from the relation of an adion 
which is one and entire, beyond what we re- 
ceive from tlie relation of fcattered and un- 
connefted fafts. Such obfervatibns taking 
their rife at firft. from feeling and experience, 
were found on examination to be fo confonant 
to rcafon^ and to the principles of human 
nature, as to pafs into eflabliihed rules, and 
to be conveniently applied for judging of 
the excellency of any performance. This is 
the mbff natural account of the origin of 
Criticifm. / 

A MASTERLY gcnius, it is true, will of 
fiimfelf, untaught, compofe in fuch a manner 
as (tall be agreeable to the moft material rules 
of Criticifm ; for as thcfe rules are founded in 



nature, nature will often fuggcft thenfi in 
praftice. Homer, it is more than probable, 
was acquainted with no fyftems of the art of 
poetry. Guided by genius alone, he compofed 
in verfe a regular ftory, which all pofterity 
has admired. But this is no argument againd:* 
the ufefulnefs of Criticifm as an art. For as 
no human genius is perfeft, there is no writer 
but may receive afliftance from critical ob- 
fervations upon the beauties and faults of 
thofe who have gone before him. • No ob- 
fervations or rules can indeed fupply the defe£t 
of genius, or infpire it where it is wanting. 
But they may often dire6t it into its proper 
channel j they may correft its extravagancies, 
and point out to it the molt juft and proper 
imitation of nature. Critical rules are de- 
(jgned chiefly to fhew the faults that ought to 
be avoided. To nature we mufl: be indebted 
for the production of eminent beauties. 

From what has been faid, we are enabled 
to form a judgment concerning thofe com- 
plaints which it has long been fafhionable for 
petty authors to make againft Critics and 
Criticifm. Critics have been reprefented as 
the great abridg^rs of the native liberty of 
genius ; as the impofers of unnatural (hackles 
and bonds upon writers, from whofe cruel 
.perfecution they mud fly to the Public, and 
implore its proteftion. Such fupplicatory 
~ £)jrefaccs 

GRITfeiSM; 49 

j)refaccs are not calculated to give very favour- l e c t^ 
able ideas of the genius of the author. For 
every good writer will be pleafcd to have his 
work examined by the principles of found 
undei-ftandingi and true Tafte. The decla- 
mations againft Griticifm commonly proceed 
upon this fuppofition, that Critics are fuch as 
judge by rule, not by feeling ; which is fo far 
from being true, that they who judge after 
this manner are pedantSi not Critics. For all 
the rules of genuine Criticifm I have fliewn 
to be ultimately founded on feeling; and 
Tafte and Feeling are neceffary to guide us 
in the application of thefe rules to every par- 
ticular inftance. As there is nothing in which 
all forts of perfons more readily afFeft to be 
judges than in works of Tafte^ there is no 
doubt that the number of incompetent Critics 
will always be great. But this afFords no 
^more foundation for a general inve^ive againft 
Crkicifm, than the number of bad philofophers 
or realbners affords againft reafon and phiIo«^ 

■ « 

An objeftion more piaufibie nriay be formed 
againft Criticifm^ from the applaufe that fcrmd 
performances have received from the Publicj 
.which, when accurately confideredj are found 
to contfadid the rules eftablilhed by Critieifin. 
Now;^ according to the principles laid dowri 
in thelaft Licdure^ the Public is the fupreme 

Vol. L E j^dge 


L E 6 T. judge to whom the laft appeal muft be niad^ 
in every work of Tafte j as the ftandard of 
Tafte ii founded on the fentiments that are 
natural and common to all men. But with 
rcfpcd to this, we are to obferve, that the 
fenfe of the Public is often too haftily judged 
0f. The genuine public Tafte docs not always 
iappear in the'firft applaufe given upon the 
publication of any new wol-k. There are both 
a great vulgar and a fmall, apt to be eatched 
land dazzled by very fuperficial beauties, the 
admiration of which> in a little time pafles 
away : and fometimes a writer may acquire 
great temporary reputation merely by his coiti- 
plianee with the paffions or prejudices, with 
the party-fpirit or fuperftitious notions, that 
toay chance to rule for a time almoft a wholt 
nation. In fuch cafes, though the Public may 
feem to praife, true Criticifm may with reafoh 
condemn ; and it will in progrefs of time gain 
the afcendant : for the judgment of true Cri- 
ticifm, and the voice of the Public, when once 
become unprejudiced and difpaffionate| wHl 
ever coincide at laft. 

Instances, I admit, there are, of A>nie^ 
works that Contain grofs tranfgreffions of th^ 
laws of Criticifm, acquiring, neverthelefs, a 
general, and even a lafting admiration^ Such 
are the plays of Shakefpeare, which, confidered 
as dramatic poems, are irregular in the higheft 
^ degree. 


degree. But then f/t ar€ to remark, that «• ^^ c t* 
they have gained the public admlrationi not 
by tbeir being irregular, not by their tranf- 
grefiioiia of the rules of art, but i^ fpicc 
of fucb tranfgreffions. They poflfefs other 
beauties 'which are conformable to juft rules ^ 
and the force of thefe bottrties has been fo 
great as to overpower ttU cenfure, and to give 
thia Public a degree of &t:isfadion fuperlor to 
the difgtfft arifmg from their blemifbes. 
Shakefpeare pleafe$^ not by his bringing the 
tranfa&ioDs of many years into one play; not 
by his grotcfque mixtures of Tragedy and 
Comedy in one piece, nor by the ftralned 
thoughts, and afFedbed witticifms, which he 
fometimtes employs* Thefe we confuler ad 
blemifiies, and impute them to the groiTnefs 
of the age in which he lived. But he pleafes 
by his animated and mafterly reprefentations 
cf chara&ers, by the Itvelinefs of his defcrip-^ 
tions, the force of his fentiments, and his 
poflefling, beyond all writers^ the natural lan- 
guage of paffion : .Beauties which true Criticifm 
no lefs teaches us to place in the higheft rank, 
than iKKure teaches ys^o feel. 

I pitocEED next to explain the meaning of 
another term> which there will be frequent 
occafion to employ in thefe Lectures s that is. 

E 2 Taste 

iz G E N I U 8; 

Taste and Genius arc two words frequently 
joined together 5 and therefore, by inaccurate 
thinkers, confounded. They fignify however 
two quite different things. The difference 
between them can be clearly pointed out^ 
and it is of importance to retxiember it. Tafte 
con&fts in the power of judging : Genius, in 
the power of executing. One may have a 
confiderable degree of Tafte in Poetry, Elo- 
quence, or any of the fine arts, who has little 
or hardly any Genius for compofition or exe- 
cution in any of thefe arts ; But Genius can- 
not be found without including Tafte alio. 
Genius, therefore, deferves to be confidered 
as a higher power of the mind than Tafte. 
Genius always imports fomething inventive or 
creative ; which does not reft in mere fenfibi- 
lity to beauty where it is perceived^ but which 
can, moreovfcr, produce new beauties, and ex- 
hibit them in fuch a manner as ftrongly to 
imprefs the minds of others. Refined Tafte 
forms a good critic s but Genius is farther ne- 
cefTary to form the poet, or the orator. 

It is proper alfb to obferve, that Genius is 
a word, which, in common acceptation, ex- 
pends much farther than to the objefts oF 
Tafte. It is ufed to ftgnify that talent or 
aptitude . which we receive from nature, for 
excelling in any one thing whatever. Thus 
we fpeak of a Genius for mathematics, as well 



as a Genius for poetry ; of a Genitis for war, l e c t. 
for politics, or for any mechanical employ- 

This talent or aptitude for excelling in 
ibme one particular, is^ I have faid, what we^ 
receive from nature. By art and ftudy, no 
doubt) it may be greatly improved j but by 
them alone it cannot be acquired. As Genius 
is a higher faculty tlian Tafte, it is ever, ac- 
cording to the ufual frugality of nature, more 
limited in the fphere of its operations. It is 
not uncommoi) to meet -with perfons who have 
an excellent Tafte in (cveral of the polite arts, 
fuch as mufic, poetry^ painting, and eloquence, 
all together : But, to find one who is an ex- 
cellent performer in all thefe arts, is much 
more rare ; or rather, indeed, fuch an one i$ 
not to be looked for. A fort of Univerfal 
Genius^ or one who is equally and indifferently 
turned towai-ds fcveral different profeflions and 
arts, is not likely^ to excel in any. Although 
there may be fome few exceptions, yet in 
general it holds, that when the bent of the 
mind is wholly direded towards fome one 
objcft, exclufive, in a manner, of others, there 
is thc> faireft profpeft of eminence in that, 
whatever it be. The rays muft converge to a 
point, in order to glow intenfely. This re- 
mark I here chufe to make, on account of its 
great importance to young people i in leading 

¥* ;} them 


54 G B N I U S. 

L EC T. them ta examine with care, and to purfue with 
ardour, the current and pointing of nature to- 
wards thofe exertions of Genius in which they 
are moft likely to excel. 

A Genius for any of the fine art&, as I before 
pbferved, always fuppofes Tafte; and it is 
clear, that the improvement of T^c will ferrc 
both to forward and to corre<51: the ciperations 
of Genius. In proportion £i4 th^Taftcfof* 
poet, or orator, becomes more refined with 
refpeft to the beautie$ of compofitioij, it will 
certainly affift: him to produce the more finifhcd 
bewties in his work. Genius, however, in a 
Poet or Orator, m^ fometimcs extft in a higher 
degree than Taftej tha,t i?, Geniu$ ms^y be 
bold and ftrong, when Tafte is peitrher very 
delicate, nor very correA. This is often the 
cafe in the infancy of arts; 'a period whw 
Genius frequently exerts itfelf with gre^ 
vigour and executes with much warmth; 
while Tafte, which requires experience, and 
improves by flowci- degrees, hath not yet aft- 
twined its full growth. Homer and Shake- 
fpeare are proofsrof what I now affertj in whofe 
admirable writings are found inftances q£ 
rudenefs and indelicacy,, which th<^ more ne-* 
iSned Tafte of later writer?, i^jho had far in*- 
ferior Genius to them, ^ould: have taught them 
to avoid. As all human perfection 19 limited, 
this qiay very probably be the law of oujc n(i- 



turc, that it is nbt given to cfnc man to exc- ^ b c t. 
cute with vigour and fire, and, at the fame 
time, to attend to all the lefler and more refined 
graces that belong to the exaft perfeftion of 
bis werk: While, on the other hand, a thorough 
Tarfle for thofe inferior graces, is, for the moft 
party accompanied with a diminution of fubli<- 
mkjr aad force. 

Having thus explaipcd the nature of Tafte 
the nature and importance of Criticifm, and 
the diftindion between Tafte and Genius ; 
I am now tx> confider the fources of the Plea^ 
Xiires Off Tafte. Here opens a very extenfivc 
field I no lefs than all the pleafures of the 
imaginatioo, as they are confimonly called* 
^hdther afforded u^ by natural obje6ts, or by 
the innkatioas and defcriptions of them. But 
it isr not neceffary to the purpoft of my Lec- 
tures, that aH thefe Ibould be examined fully ; 
the pldafurq which \^e receive from difcourfe, 
or wridng, being the main obje<Sl: of th«TT. 
All that I purpofe is> to give fome openings 
into the Pleafures of Tafte in general; and to 
infift more partitularly upon Sublimity and 
Beatity. * 

We w-e far froni having yet attained to any 
fyftehn concerning (his fubje6t, Mr. Addifob 
was the firft who atteilipted a regular enquiry, 
in his Eflay on -the Pleafures of tljje Imagina* 

E 4 tion. 

• r ■ 



0iherS| of b^^evoknce and gbodnefs. Tmi^ 
thought, which Mn AdcUfon firft ftarted, Dn 
Akenfide, in his Poem on the Pleafures pf the 
Imagination, has happily purfued. 


Not (?dnterit 


WJth ^veffy food of life to noariA man, 
Bf Uifid i\M\oiii of the wondeting ftrife, 

^ Thou mak'ft all nature. Beauty to his *ye, 

j Or Mufic to bis ear. 

I SHALL begin with confidering thePleafort 
which arifcs from Sublimity or Grandeur, of 
which I pr'opoit to treat at fome length ; both> 
a^ this has a ChaFa<5^er more precife and difr 
tvnftly marked, than any other, of the PJea- 
fui^s of the Imagination, aiiid as it coincides 
mor-e dired-ly with cwr main fubjeft. Far the 
^reatier diftinftnefs I Ihall, firft, treat of th'e 
Grandeur or Siablimity of external objefts 
themfelves, which wiU employ the reft of thU 
Ledkure -, and, afterwards, of the defcription. 
of fuch objedts, or of what is called the Sub*- 
lime in Writing, which fliall be the fubjeS 
of a following ILefture. I diftrnguifh thefe 
two things from one another, the Grandeur of 
the objedts.themfelves when they are prefenred 
to the eye, and the defcription ofthat Gran- 
deur in difcourfe or writing; though moft: 
Critics, inaccurately I think, blend them 
together; and I confider Grandeur and Subr 
iifinity as terms fynonymO^Sy or nearly fo. 
' . / .../ If 



If ihere be any diftiafii-dn between th^m, it tECT^ 
arifes from Sublimity'^ exprefling Grandeur in 
i|s higheft degree 


It is not e^fy to ^efcribe,. in words, the prcj- 
t\ic irnpreflioa . "wbich great anfl &^- 
je(5t$ oiake upon us^ wJien we behold them ; 
but eveify oner has a conception of it* It pro- 
duces a fort of internal elevation afid exparv* 
Jfioiii it rjiifcs the mind much, above k^ ordif- 
flary ftatej aod fills it witb'a-^egrec of woit- 
der and aftoniflMpentj. whi<;h it c^nnpft well e?i- 
pref^ The emotion is certainly d^Ughtful ; 
but it i$ altogether of the ieriou^ kind : a de** 
gree of afwfolnefs, and fplemoity, eyct^ >p- feverityj, qc^Tinwnly at^ej^s it 
when, at it& height » very diftinguifbable from 
the more gay and brilk emojion- railed by 
beautiful objefts. 

The fimplrfc form -of external Gramkur ap- 
pear&.in tjhc vftft and boiundiels prdfpecSts pre- 
fcpt^d to us by nature j fuch as wide extended 
f^apTns to whi^h the eye can fee no lioaitsr; 
the firiBament of Heaven j or the boimdjefs 
exp^ftfc ^f the Ocean. AH vajftnefs produces 
^e irapfcffiqa bf Sublimity, It is to be m- 
trULtktdf, however^ that f^aee, extended in 


* SeiB a Philofbphiical Imjuiry into th/e Origin of our 
Idea3 of the SuhJime and BeautiOil. Dr. Gerard on TaHe, 
Scaion If. Elei^enu of Criricifm, Chap. IV. 




L ^ c T. kngth, makes not fo ftrong an imprcffion as 
height or depth. Though a boundkfs plain 
be a grand obje£V^ yet a high mountaiii^ to 
which we look up, or an awful precipice or 
tower whence we look down on the objefts 
Ivhich lie below, is ftill more fo. The excef- 
five Grandeur of the firnniament arifes from 
its height, joined to its boundlefs extent j and 
that of the ocean, not from its extent alone, 
but from the perpetual motion and irrefiftibic 
force of that mafs of waters. Wherever fpadc 
-is concerned, it is clear, that amplitude or 
greatnefs of extent, in one dimenfion or other, 
is ncceffary to Grandeur. Remove all bounds 
from any obgcft, and you prefently render it 
fublime. Hence infinite fpace,- endlefs num- 
bers, and eternal duration, fill the mind with 
great ideas. 

From this fome have imagined, that vaft- 
nefs, or amplitude of extent, is the foundation 
of all Sublimity. But I cannot be of this 
opinion, bccaufe many obje<fts .appear-fublinM 
which have no relation to fpace at all. Such, 
for inftance, is great loudnefs of found. The 
burfl: of thunder or of cannon, the roaring of 
winds, the fhouting of multitudes, the found 
of vaft catarafts of water, are^U inconteftibly 
grand objeds. " I heard the voice of ia great 
^' multitude, as the found of many waters, 
^* and of mighty tbundcrings, faying Allejy- 
? "J4h/' 




''jah." In general we may obferve, that lect. 
great power and force exerted, always raifc '"" 
fublime ideas : and perhaps the moil copious 
Iburce of thcfe is derived from this quarter. 
Hence the grandeur of earthquakes and burn- 
ing mountains; of great conflagrations s of , 
the ftorrny ocean, and overflowing waters j of ^J ' 
tempcfts of wind J of thunder and lightning ;^^*'^' ''^• 
and of all the uncommon violence of the ele- ^1^ ii<^ 
ments. Nothing is more fublime than mighty /^^* .^. 
power and ftrength. A ftream that runs 
within its banks, is a beautiful objedt; but 
when it rulhes down with the impetuolity and 
noifc of a torrent, it prefently becomes a fub--*'^ /U* / 
lime one. Troin lions, and other animals.- .. ^ / 2^/" 
of ftrength, are drawn fublime comparifons 
in poets, A race horfe is looked upon with. 
pleafure ; but it is the war-horfe, *^ whofe 
** Deck is clothed with thunder," that carries 
grandeur in its idea. The engagement of two 
great armies, as it is the higheft exertion of 
human might, combines a variety of fources of , / 

the Sublime; and has accordingly been always 
conlidered as one of the moft ftriking and 
magnificent fpediacles that can be either pre- 
fented to the eye, or exhibited to the imagina- 
tion in defcription. 

For the farther illuftration of this fubjciJt, 
it is proper to remark, that all ideas of the 
folemn and awful kind, and even bordering on 


JM-^/V ."••-V^v ,.<>•?. .•■'/.-^ ,••-,. ,'■•'•/ ' - "■■ 

V-- ^^^ " **' **■ 


the terrible, tend greatly to affift the Sublime j 
fuch as darknefs, Iblitud^^ and filence. What 
arc the fcenes of nature that elevate, the mind 
in the higheft degree, and produce the fublime 
fenfation ? Not the gay landfcape, the flowery 
field, or the flourifhing city; but the hoary 
mountain, and the foil tary lake; the aged 
forefl:, and the torrent falling over the rock. 
Hence too, night-fcenes are commonly the 
fDoft fublime.. The firmament when filled 
with (tars, fcattered in fuch vaft numbers, and 
with fuch magnificent profufion, (Irikes the 
innagination with a more awful grandeur, than 
when we view it enlightened by all the fplen-» 
dour of the San, The deep found of a great 
bell, or the ftrrking of a great clock, arc at 
any time grand; bur> when heard amid the 
filence and ftillnefs of the night, they become 
doubly fo. Darkncfs is very commonly ap- 
plied for adding fublimity to all our ideas of 
the Deity* ** He maketh darknefs his pa- 
" vUiofti he dwelleth in the thick cloud." So 
Milt04i : 

How oft, arfiidft 

Thick clouds and dark, does Heaven's alUruling Sire 

Cimfe to refide, his ^Ica-y unobfcured, 

And, with the Majefty of darknefs, round 

Circles his throne Book II. 263. 

Obferve, with how much art Virgil has intro- 
duced all thofe ideas of filence, vacuity, and 
darknefs, when he is going to introduce his 



Hend ^ the infernal regionsj andcadifdofe lect. 
the fecrets of the great deep. 

Dii quiUvs impprium eft ^niaiarwn, uiDbraequc fileJitcs^ 
Et Chaos, et Phlegethon, loca nofte filentia late. 
Sit mihi fas audit^i loqui ; fit numine veftro 
Pandere res alta terra, ct calligine toerfas. 
11>ant obicuri, foia Cub no£le, per umbraoi, 
Perque domosDitls vacuos, et inania regnai 
Qt|9}e ftec iB^eftsm lunam^ Atb Itice «ajigi>9^^ 
Eft iter i» fylvi*.,-^ *• f 

Yhefe paffages I quote at prefent, not fo i-nuch 
as inftanqes of Sublime Writing, though in 
themfelves they truly are fo, as to Ihew, by 
the •effeft of them, that the objects which 
they prefent to us, belong to the clafs of fub- 
lime ones. 

Obscurity, we are farther to remark, is 
not. unfavourable to the Sublime* Though 

♦ i . . 

* Yc fubterranean Gods, ivhofe awful fway 
The g1i4i«g gbcds and fikut fiiades ohny ; 
O Ch§9d, hpar ! and Pblflgetbon profbusd i 
-Whofe folprnQ exnpifc firetchcs wide around I 
Give me, ye great treniendous powers ! to tell 
Of fcenes and wonders in the depths of HelJ; 
Give me your mighty fecrets to dUph^^ 
Frofn thofe black realms of darknefi to the day« 


Obfeure they went f through dreary fli%je$, tfa^t ted^ 

Ahmg the wafie dominions ctf ihe de^d ; 

As wander trarelleis in woods by night. 

By the moca's do«jbtful and malign^ynC light* 



/>lit. *» 



it render the objeft indiftinfl) the impreflioif^ 
however^ may be great ^ for^ as an ingenious 
Author has well obferved, it is one thing to 
make an idea clear^ and another to make it 
afFeding to the imagination ; and the imagi* 
nation may be ftrongly affefted, and, in fadt^ 
often is fo, by objefts of which we have na 
clear conception. Thus we fee, that almoft 
all the defcriptions given us of the appearances 
of fupernatural Beings, carry fome Sublimity^ 
though the conceptions which they afford us 
be confufed and indiftincl. Their Sublimity 
arifes from the ideas, which they always con- 
vey, of fuperior power and might, joined with 
an awful obfcunty. We may fee this fully 
exemplified in the following noble paffage of 
the book of Job. " In thoughts from the 
/' vifions of the night, when deep flcep falleth 
*' upon , men, fear came upon me, and 
*^ trembling, which made all my bones to 
*' fliake. Then a fpirit paffed before my 
^' face ; the hair of my flefh ftood up : it ftood 
*' ftill 5 but I could not difcern the form 
*' thereof; an image was before mine eyes j 
*' there was filence; aad I heard a voice — 
** Shall mortal man be more juft than God* ?" 


* The pIAare which Lttcretias has drawn of the domi* 
nion of fnperftition over mankind, reprefenting It as a por« 
teutons fpedtre Ihowing its head from the clouds, and dif- 
maying the whole haman race with its countenance, toge- 
ther with the magnanimity of Epicurus in jraiiing himfelf 


0ob, W. 15,) No ideas, it is plain, are fo t e c t. 
fublime as thofe taken from the Supreme 
Being ; the moft unknown^ but th^ greatefl: 
of ail ot^dsi - the infinity of whofe nature^ 
and the eternity of whofe duration> joined 
with the omnipotence of his power, though 
they furpafs our conceptions, yet exalt them 
to the higheft. In general, all objects that 
are greatly raifed ab.ovc us, or far removed 
from. us, either in fpace or in time,. are apt to 
ftrike us as great. Our viewing them, as 
through the mill of dillance or antiquity^ 
is favourable to the impreffions of ^eir Sub- 

As obfcurity, fo diforder too, is very 
compatible with grandeur; nay, frequently 
heightens It. Few things that are ftriftljr 
regular, and methodical, appear fublime, 
\Ve fee the limits on every fidci we feel our- 
fclves confined J there is no' room for the 
rnind^s exerting any great effort* Exad pro- 
portion of parts, though it enters often into 

up againft It, carries all the grandeur of a fublime, obfcure, 
find awful image, 

Humana ante oculos foede cuii) vita jaceret 

In terris, opprefTa gravi fub rcligione^ . 

Quae caput a ccefi regiohibus oflendebat» 

Horribili fuper afpedtu mortalibus inftans, 

Primum Graius homo mortales tollere contra 

Sft otulos aufus,— • i'J»' !• 

..Vol. I. F the 


the beaxitiful, is much 'difregarded in the Svh* 
lime. A ^gresit mafs cf rocksi tbrowfi toge- 
ther by die hand ^f nature with wildnefs and 
confnfioR, ftrike the mind with more grandeur, 
than ,if tl^ey had been adjuftcd to one another 
**ivith the moft accurate fymmctry. 

In the feeble attempts, which human art 
can make towards producing grand objedts 
(feeble, I mean, in coniparifon with th0 
powers of nature), greatnefs of dimenfions al- 
ways conftitutes a principal part. No pile of 
building can convey any idea of Sublimity^ 
tinlefs it be ample and lofty. There is, too, 
in architefture, what is called Greatnefs of 
manner; which feems chiefly to arife, from 
prefenting the o*bje<?t to us in Gfne full point of 
view J fo that it Ihall make its impreffion 
whole, entire, and undivided, upon the mind, 
A Gothic cathedral raifes ideas of gradndeur 
Ja our minds, by its fize, its height, its awful 
obfcurity, its ftrength, its antiquity^ and its 

There dill reitiains to be nientioaed om 
elafs of Sublime obje&s, which may be called 
the moral, or fentinoental Sublime > ariCng 
from certai|> es^ertions of the human mind ; 
from certain afieftioR&, »tkd a&ione, of our 
fellow-creatures. Thefe will be found to be 
itl, or chiefly, of that clafs," which comes un- 

.; oTcr 


tfer rfie name of Magnanimrty or Heroifm i 
nod thty produce an effect extremely fimilar 
to what is produced by the view of -grand ob- 
jc<5ts in nature; iilling the mind with admira- 
tion, and elevating it above itfelf. A noted 
inftance of this, quoted by all the French 
Critics, is the celebrated ^*il Mourut of 
Comeiile, in the Tragedy of Horace. In the 
famous combat betwixt the Horatii and the 
Curiatii, the old Horatius, being ioformcd, 
that two of his fons arc flain, and that the 
third had betaken himfelf to flight, at firfl: will 
not believe the report; but being thoroughly 
afiured of the fadt, is fired with all the fenti- 
ments of high honour and indignation at this 
fuppofed unworthy behaviour of his furviving 
fon. He 18 reminded, that his fon ftood alone 
againfl: three, and afked what he wifhed him 
to have done ?— " To have died,*' — he an- 
iwers. In the fame manner Porus, taken 
prifoner by Alc5tander, after a gallant defence, 
and alked how he wi(hed to be treated ? an- 
fwering, '^ Lik<e a king ^" and C^far chid- 
ing the pilot who was afraid to fee out with 
him in a 'ftorm, ** Quid times ? Ca^farem , 

" vchis}^* are good inftances of this fenti* * - - ♦'* ''^. 
mental Sublime. Wherever, in fome critical 
and high fituation, we behoid a man uncom- 
monly intrepid, and rcfting upon himfelf; 
fuperior to paflion and to fear; animated by 
.foaie great principle to the contempt of popu* 
V ic 2 >* Lar 

? .'•/.<» 

- %J. 

L E C T. 


lar opinion, of felfifti intereft, of dangers, or 
of death J there we are ftruck with a fenfe of 
the Sublime *• 

High virtue is the moft natural and fertile 
fource of this moral Sublimity. However, on^ 
fome occafions, where Virtue either has no 
place, or is but imperfe(^ly difplayed, yrt if 
extraordinary vigour and force of mind be 
difcovertd, we are not infenfible to a degree 
of grandeur in the charafterj and froofi the 
fplendid conqueror, or the daring confpirator, 
whom we are far from approving, we cannot 
with-hold our admiration f. 


* The Subliire, in natural and in moral obje^?', w 
brought before us in one v4ew, and compared together, in 
the following beautiful parage of Akenfide's Pleafures cff 
the Iniagihation : 

Look then abroad through oacrire ; to the range 

Of planets, funs, and adamantine fpheres. 

Wheeling, unfhaken, through the void immenfe j 

And fpeak, O man ! does this capacious fcene. 

With half that kindling.majefty, dilate 

Thy llrong conception, as when Brutus rofe 

Refulgent, from the Aroke of 'CaeTar's fate^i 

Amid the crowd of patriots ; and his arm 

Aloft extending, like eternal Jove, 

When guilt brings down the thunder, call'd aloudf 

On Tally's name^ and ihook his crttafon (leel. 

And bade the father of his coun'try hail 1> 

For lo ! the tyrant proflrace ori the dull ; 

And Rome argain is free. — Book 1. 

f Sifius Italicas has ftudied to give an auguft idea of 

Hannibal, by rcprefenting him as furrcuaded with all his 

' vidtoriesy 


I HAVE now enumerated a variety of in- 
ftances, both in inanimate objedts and in hu- 
man life, wherein the Sublime appears. In 
all thefe inftances, the emotion raifed in us is 
of the fame kind, although the obje<5ts that 
produce the emotion be of widely different 
kinds. . A queftion next arifes, whether we 
arc able to. difcover fome one fundamental 
quality in which all thefe different objefts 
agree, and which is the caufe of their pro- 
duciag an emotion of the fame nature in our 
minds? Various hypothefes have been formed 
concerning this ; but, as far as appears to me, 

vifloriesy in the place of guards. One who had formed a 
defign of aiTaffinacing him in the mid ft of a feali^ is thus 
addreiTed : 

Fallit te» menfas inter quod credis inermem ; 
Tot bellis qussfua viro, tot cssdibus, armat 
Majeflas aeterna ducem. Si admoveris era 
Cannas^ & Trebiam ante oculos, Trafymenaque bufla 
£t PauH flare ingentem miraberis umbram. 

A thought fomewhat of the fame nature occurs in a French 
author : " 11 fe cache j mais fa reputation le. decouvre : II 
marche fans fuite & fans equipage ; mais chaeun, dans 
fon efprit, le met fur un char de tfiomphe. On compte, 
** en Je voiant, les ennemisqu'il a vaincus, non pas les fer* 
** viteurs qui le fuivent. Tout feul qu'il eft, on fe figure, 
** aucour de Iut, fes vertus, & fes vidloires que I'accom- 
pagnent. Moins il eft fuperbe, plus il Jevient vene- 
rable." Oraifon funebre de M. de Turenne, par M. 
Flechier.— Both thefe paffages arc fplendid, rather than 
fablime. In the fii-ft^ thefe is a want of 'juftoefsin the 
thought ; in thd econd, of ftmplicity in the expreillon. 

F 3 hitherto 




hitherto unfatisfaftory. Some have imagined 
that amplitude^ or grear cxtenc, joined with, 
fimplicity, is either immcdiaudy, or remotely, 
the fundamental quaHty of whatever ia 
fublime; but we have {ken. that amplitude, 
is confined to one fpecies of Sublime Object*;. 
' and cannot^ without violent firadmng, be ap- 
plied to themr all. The Author of *^ a Pbi^ 
^ lofophical Enquiry into the Origin of our 
^' Ideas of the Sublime and fieavitifuV ta 
whom we are indebted for feveral ingjemou^ 
and original thoughts upon this fubje6fe> pro** 
poies a formal theory upon this fouadatdoDj* 
That terror is the fource of the Sublime, and 
that no objefts have this charaAer, bur fuch^ 
as produce impreffions of pain and danger. 
It is indeed true, that many terrible objecfls 
arc highly fublimej and that grandeur docs 
not refufe an alliance with the idel of dangjcr* 
But though thisj is very properly illuftrated by 
the Author (many of whofe fentiments on that 
head I have adopted), yet he feems to ftt'ctcb 
his theory too far, when he reprefents the 
Sublime as confffting wholly in modes of dan- 
ger, or of pain. Fot the proper fexifation of 
Sublimity appears to be very diftinguifbable' 
from the fenfation of cither of thefej and, en 
feveral occafions, to be entirely feparated from 
them. In many grand objedts, there is na 
coincidence with terror at all i as in the mag- 
nificent profpeft of wide extended plains, and- 
8 - of 


of the ftarrjr firmament; or in the moral difpofi- l e c t. 
tions and fentiments^ which we view with high 
admiration ; and in many painful and terri- 
ble objects alfo, it is clear, there is no fort of 
grandeur. The amputation of a limb^ or the 
bit e of a fnake, are exceedingly terrible ; btit 
are deftijute of all .claim .whatever to Subli- 
mity. I am inclined to think> that mighty 
force or power, whether accompanied with 
terror or riot, whether, employed ia prote(Jiing, 
or in alarming us, has a better title, than any 
thing, shdt has yet been mentioned, to be the 
fundamental <|.uality of the Sublimes as> after 
the review which we have taken, there does not 
occur IP me any Sublime Objed, into the 
idea of which, poiwer, ftrength, and force, 
either enter not diredly,. or are not, at leaft^ 
intimately aiTociated wkh the idea, by leading 
4)ur thought9 to fome aftoniihing power, as 
concerned ia the produdion of the objed:. 
However, I do not mfift upon this as fufficient 
to found a general theory : It is enoogh tO' 
have given this view of the nature and different 
kinds of Sublime Objeds ; by which I hope to 
have laid a pcoper foundation for difeufflng, 
with* greater accuraey^ the Sublime irt Writing 
IU24> pom|>ofitioa^. 

IP 4 



AVING treated of Grandeur or Subli- 
mity in external objects, the way feems 
now to be cleared, for treating, with more 
advantage, of the defcription of fuch objcfts^ * 
or, of what is called the Sublime in Writing. 
Though I may appear to enter early on the ' 
confideration of this fubjeft j yet, as the 
Sublime is a fpecics of Writing which depends 
Icfs than any other on the artificial embellifh- 
nients of rhetoric, it may be examined with 
as much propriety here, as in any ftiWequcnt 
part of the Lcftures. 

Many critical terms have unfortunately 
been employed, in a fenfe too loofe and vague, 
none more fo, that that of the Sublime* Every 
one is acquainted with the charafter of Casfar^s 
Commentaries, and of the ftyle in which they 
are written ; a ftyle remarkably pure, fimple, 
and elegants but the moft remote from the 



Sublime, of any of the claflical authors. Yet 
tbis author has a German critic, Johannes 
Gulielmus Bergerus, who wrote no longer ago 
than the year 1720, pitched upon as the per- 
fed model of the Sublime, and has conlpofed 
a quarto volume, entitled. Be naiurali ful- 
chritudine Oratitmis ; the exprefs intention of 
which is to fliew, that Csefar's Commentaries 
contain the moft complete exemplification of 
all Longinus's rules relating to Sublime Writ- 
ing. This I mention as a ftrong proof of 
the confufed ideas which have prevailed, con- 
cerning this fubjeft. • The true fenfc of Sub- 
lime Writing, undoubtedly, is fuch a dc- 
fcription of objefts, , or- exhibition of fenti- 
ments, which are \r\ themfelves of a Sublime 
nature, as fhall give us ftrong impreflions of 
them. But there is another very indefinite^ 
and therefore very improper, fenfe, which has 
been too often put upon it'; when it is applied 
to fignify any remarkable and diftinguilhing 
excellency of compofition ; whether it raife in 
us the ideas of grandeur, or thofe of gentle- 
^'^h^ elegance,, or any other fort of beauty. 
In this fenfe Caefar's Commentaries may, 
indeed, be termed Sublime, and fo may many 
Sonnet?,- Piaftorals, and Love Elegies as well 
as Homer's Iliad. But this evidently con- 
founds the ufe of words j and marks no one 

fpecies, or charafter, of tpompofuion what* 



u B c T. I ANi forry to be obliged to obfervc, that 
the Sublime is too often Qfed in this laft and 
improper fenfc, by the celebraeed critic L/)n- 
ginus> in hts treatifie on this ibbjeft. He lets 
cuty indeed, with defcribing k in its jirft and 
proper ntieanlng ^ as fomething that elevates 
the mind above itfelf^ and SAs it with high 
coQceptiofDs, and a noble pride. But ftom- 
this view of it he frequently departs > and fob* 
ftituces in tl^ place of it> whatever^ in znj 
firain of compoftcion^ pleafes highly. Thos» 
maisy of the pafiages which he produces as 
ii^ftances of the Sublime^ are oKtrely elcgant> 
withoitt having the rac^ diftant relation to 
proper .Soblimity ;. -wrtnefs Sappho'^s fancious 
OdCj on which he defcapts at conikierablc 
length. He points, out five iources of the Sub- 
lime. The firft is, Boldnefs or Grandeur ia 
the Thoughts; the iccond is,> the Pathetic;, 
the thirdy the proper application of Figures ; 
the fourth^ the ufe of Tropes and bcautifui 
ExprelBons ^ the fifth, MuQcal Scru£fcure and 
Arrangement of Words. This is the plan of 
one wha was. writing a treatife ofrhetMicy or 
of the beauties of Writing in general ; not of 
the Sublime in particular. For of thefe five 
heads, only the two firfi: have any peculiar 
relation to the Sublimes Boldnefs and Gran** 
deur in the Thoughts, and, in fomc inftances, 
the Pathetic, or ftrong exertions of Paffion : 
The other three. Tropes, Figures, and Mufi- 



c$i Arrangement, have no. more relation to t* is «! t,, 
the Sublim^, thaa to other kinds of good 
Writing; perbaps lefs to the Sublime than to 
any other fpecies whatever ^ bccatifc it re- 
quires lefs the afiiftaace of ornament. Fi-oott 
this it appears, that clcsa: and precifi: ideas oa 
this head are not to be expcfted frora that 
writer. I would not, however, be underftood^ 
as if I meanty by this ccnfure, to reprefent hix 
treatife as of fiT!a|l value; I know no critic^ 
antient or modern^ that difcavcrs amo/c lively 
cdiih of the beauties of fine writing, thai): 
Longinus ^ and he has alfo the arierlt of being; 
iiimfelf an excellent, and, in feveral paflages^; 
a truly Sublime, writer^ Biit, as his work. 
has been generally conlidered as a llandard oa 
diis fabjcft^ it was incumbent on mc to give 
my opinion conceriving. the beneEt to be de- 
rived from it. It deferves to be confultcd„ 
not fo much for diftinft inftruftion concerning 
|be Sublinsey iis for excellent general idea$ 
concerning beauty in writing. 

I HBT^uRN jftow to tW proper and natural 
idea of the Sublime In compolltioa. The 
foundation of it muit always be laid in the 
nature of the objedt defcribed. Unlefa it be 
fuch an objeft as^ if prefentcd to ouir eyes^ if 
^hibited to us in reality/ would raifc ideas of 
that elevating, that awful, and magnificent 
kind^ .which we call Subli^a^ j the defcription, 


'- ^ _ \ 


however finely drawn, is not entitled to come 
tmdcr this clafs. This excludes all objefts 
that are nierely beautiful, gay, or elegant. 
In the next place, the objeft n>uft not only, 
in itfclf, be Sublime, but it muft be fet before 
us in fuch a light as is nnoft proper to give us 
a ekar and full impreflion of it ; it muft be 
defcribed with ftrength, with concifenefs, and 
limplicity. This depends, principally, upon 
the lively impreflion which the poet, or orator, 
has of the objedl which he exhibits ; and upon 
his being deeply afFefted, and wanned> by the 
Sublime idea which he would convey. If his 
own feeling be languid, he can never in- 
spire us with any ftrong emotion. Inftances, 
which are extremely neceffary on this ftib- 
jeft, will clearly Ihow the importance of all 
the requifites which I have juft Aow men- 

It IS, generally fpeaking, among the moft 
antient authors, that we are to look for the 
moft ftriking inftances of the Sublime. I am 
inclined to think, that the early ages of the 
world, and the rude unimproved ftate of fo- 
ciety, are peculiarly favourable to the ftrong 
emotions of Sublimity. The genius of men is 
then much turned to admiration and aftonifti- 
ment. Meeting with many objefts, to them 
new and ftrange, their imagination is kept 
glowing, and their paffions are often raifed to 



the utmoft* They think, and exprefs then^- L e c j, 
felves boldly, and without refiraint. In the 
progrefs of focicty, the genius and man- 
ners of men undergo a change more favour- 
able to accuracy, than to ftrength or Sub- 

Of all writings, antient or modern, the 
Sacred Scriptures afford us the higheft in- 
ftanccs of the Sublime. The defcriptions of 
the Deity, in them, are wonderfully noble ; 
both from the grandeur of-the objeft, and the 
manner of reprefenting it. What an aflem- 
,blage, foi^ ihftance, of awful and fublirne ideas 
is prefented to us, in that paffage of the 
XVIIIth Pfalm, where a.n appearance of the 
Almighty is defcribed ? " In my diftrefs I 
called upon the Lord ; he heard my voice 
out of his temple, and my cry came before 
*' him. Then, the earth (hook and trembled ; 
^^ the foundations alfo of the hills were 
" moved j becaufe he was wroth. He bowed 
*^ the heavens, and came down, and dark'- 
*' nefs was under his feet; and he did ride 
** upon a cherub, and did fly ; yea, he did 
•' fly upon the wings of the wind. He made 
*' darknefs his fecret place j Jiis pavilion 
*' round about him were dark waters, and 
*^ thick clouds of the flty." Here, agreeably to 
the principles eflrabliflied in the lail Ledture, 
we fee, with .what propriety and Xuccefs the 


■y<. .'^V/; 



circumftances of darkncls and terror arc ap- 
plied for heightening the Sublime* So, alfo, 
the prophet Habakkuk, in a iimilar paflage : 
-^ He ftood, and meafurcd the •earth ; he be- 
^^ held, and drove afuAder the nations. The 
** evcrlafting mountains were fcattered> the 
*^ perpetual hills did bow; his ways are 
" everlafting. The mountains faw thee j 
" and they trembled. The overflowing of 
^ the water pafled by. . The deep uttered 
*^ his voice, aod lifted up his hands om 

" hrgh." 


The noted inftanee, given by Longinus, 
from Mofes, " God faid, let there be light ; 
** and there was light," is not liable to the 
cemliire which I paffcd on fome of his in- 
ilances, of being foreign to the fubjofl.^ It 
be>lon>gs to the true Sublime ; and the Subli--^ 
mity of it ariies from the ftrong Conception it 
gives, of an exertion of power, producing its 
cffirft with the utmoft fpeed and facility. A 
thought of the fame kind is magnsfkcntly 
amplified in the foUowing paiTage of I£iiah 
(chap. xxiv. 04. ^17, 28.) : '* Thui faith the' 
^ Lord, thy Rcdecnrkcr, and he that formed 
** thee from the womb t I am the Lord that 
" maketh all things, that ftretchcth forth the 
^^ heavens alone, that fpreadeth abroad the 
" earth by myfeif— that faith to tiie deep, 
-•* Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers; that 

" faith 


^ faith of Cyrus, He is my fiiephcrd, and ^ *^ ^* 


fliall perCbrtxi all my pleafure^ even faying 
** to Jerufakm, Thou (halt be built ; and to 
** the Temple, thy foundation fliall be laid/* 
There is a paffagc in the Pfalms, which de- 
fervcs to be mentioned under this head ; 
^ God,"' fays the Pfalmift, " IKlleth the noifc 
^ of the Seas, the noife of their waves, and the 
^ tumults of the people.** The joining together 
two fuch grand objeds, as the ragings of the 
waters, and the tumults of the people, be- 
tween which there is fo much refemblance as 
to form a very natural aflfociation in the fancy, 
and the feprefentin'g them both as fubjeft, at 
one moment, to the command of God, pro- 
duces a noble elfed. 

HoMiR is a poet, who, in all ages, and by 
all critics, has been greatly admired for Sub- 
limity J and he owes much of his grandeur 
to that native and xinafFcded fimplicicy which 
charafterifcs his manntr. His dcfcriptions of 
hofts engaging ; the animation, the fire, and 
rapidity, which he throws into his battles, 
prefent to every reader df the'IIiad^ frequent 
inftances of Sublime Writing. His intro- 
duction of the Gods, tends often to heighten, 
in a high degpee, the majefly of his warlike 
fcenes. Hence Longin;us beftows fuch high 
and juft commendations on that paflage, in 
the XVth book of the Iliad, where Neptupe, 



*- ^y^ '^' when preparing to iffuc forth into the engage- 
ment, is defcribed as (baking the mountains 
with his fteps, and driving his chariot along 
the ocean. Minerva, arming herfclf for fight 
in the Vth book ; and Apollo, in the XV th, 
leading on the Trojans, and flafliing terror 
with his yEgis on the face of the Greeks, are 
fimilar inftances of great Sublimity' added to 
the defcription of battles, by the appearances 
of thbfe ccleftial beings. In the XXth book, 
where all the Gods take part in the engage- 
ment, according as they federally favour either 
the Grecians, or the Trojans, the poet's 
genius is lignally difplayed, and the defcrip- 
tion rifcs into the mod awful magnificence* 
All nature is reprefented as in commotion, 
Jupiter thunders in the heavens ; Neptune 
ftrikes the earth with his Trident ; the Ihips, 
the city,- and the mountains fhakes the earth 
trembles to its centre ; Pluto ftarts from his 
throne, in dread left the fccrets of the infernal 
region fliould be laid open to the view of 
mortals. The paflage is worthy of being 



^1 i/ - '^ 


ndyriq f, itra-iiovTO vih^ voXytrddxH "liviSi 

AiltroL^ i* £jc &f o»« aXro, xat Tax*' /*** ®* J^^f 9fc 
ra7cif dyapp^^eii Ho&nidcdv hotrl^^apf 

Iliad, 20. 47. &a 

* Bat wbett the powers defcendlog fwdled the fights 
1 hen tumult rofe, fierce rage» and pale affright f 
Now through the trembling fhores Minerva calls^ 
And now fhe thunders from the Grecian walls. 
Mars hovVing o^er his Troy, his terror ifarouds 
In gloomy tempelb* and a night of clouds ; 
Now through each Trojan heart he fury poors. 
With voice divine, from Ilion's topmoil towcri— — ^^ 
Above, the Sire of Gods his thunder rolIs> 
And peal^ on peals redoubled rend the poles i 
Beneath, ftera Neptune ihakes the folid ground^ 
The fbrefts wave^ the mountains nod around ; 
Through all her fummits tremble Ida's woods. 
And from their fotiites boil her hundred floods t 
Troy's tiirrets tbtter on the rocking plain, 
A^d tfate tofs'd navies beat the heaving maita : 
Peep in the diCmal r^on of the dead, 
Th' infernal monarch rear'd his horrid head. 
Leapt from his throne, left Neptune's arm (hould lay 
ttis dark domiiMpns open to the day ; 
And poor in light on Pluto's drear abodes, 
Abhbrr'd by meo, and dreadful ev'a to Gods* 
Soch wars th' immortals wage ; fuch horrors rend 
The world's vaft concave, when the Gods contend. , 


Vqi.. I. G Thb 



L EC T. The works of Offian (as I have clfcwhcrc 
Ihcwn) abound with examples of the Sublime. 
The fubjefts of which that author Jtreats, and 
the manner in ¥rl|ich he writes, arc particu- 
larly favourable to it. He poflreiTes ^1 the 
plain and venerable manner of the antient 
times. He deals m no fupcrfluous or gaudy 
ornaments ; but throws ferth his images with 
a rapid concifenefs, which enables them to 
ftrike the mind with t h e g rca teft force; Among 
poets of miH'c polifhed times^ we are to look 
for the graces of cor»cft wridng, for jufl pro- 
portion of parts, and fkilfully condufted nar- 
ration. In the midft of fmiling fcencry and 
plea fur able themes^ the gay aad the beaiittiful 
will appear, undoubtedly, ta more advantage.. 
But amidft the rude fccnes of nature and of 
fociety, fuch as OiTian defcribes i amidft 
rocks, and torrents, and whirlwinds, and bat- 
tles, d«7elU> the Sublime $ and naturally aflb- 
ciates itfelf with that grave and folemn ipirit 
which diftinguifhes the Author of Fi^gal. 
*^ As automa's dark ftorms pour frana two 
echoing bills, fo toward each other ap- 
proached the heroes. As two dark ftreams 
" from high rocks meet and mix, and roar on 
<^ the plain: loud, rough, ao^d .dark,, in 
" battte, rnct Lochlin and Ini&fail j chief 
*' mixed his ftrokes with chief, and man with 
" man. Steel clanging founded on fteeh 
" Helmets are cleft on high i blood burfts, 



" and fmokes around. As the troubled noife ^ e c x. 


** of the oceari vi^hcn roll the wav« on high 5 
** as the laft peal of the thunder of heaven j 
" fuch is the noife of battk. The groan of 
** the people fprcad over the hills. It was like 
" the thunder of night, when the cloud burfts 
" on Cona, and a thoufand ghofts (hriek at 
** once on the hollow wind." Never were 
images of more awful Sublimity employed to 
heighten the terror of battle* 

I HAVE produced thcfe inftances, in order 
to 4^nfxonftrate that concifenefs and Cmplicity 
arc ci&ntial to Sublime Writing. Simplicity^ 
I place in oppofition to ftudied and profufe 
ornament j and concifenefs, to fuperfluous 
expreffion. The reafon why a defeft, either 
in concifenefs or fimplicity, is hurtful in a pe- 
culiar manner to the Sublime, Ifliall endea- 
vour to explain. The emotion occafioncd in 
the mind by fome great or noble objcdi raifes 
it confiderably above its ordinary pitch. A fort 
of cnthufiafm is produced, extremely agreeable 
while it lafts J but from which the mind is tend- 
ing every moment to fall down into its ordinary 
iituation. Now, when an author has brought 
us, or is attempting to bring us, into this date; 
if he multiplies words unneceffarily, if he decks 
the StrWime objeA which he prefcnts to us, 
round and round, with glittering ornaments 5 
nay, if he throws" in any one decoration that 

G 2 finks 



finks in the kaft below the capital imajge, th^ 
moment he altera the key j he relaxes the 
tenfioftof the mindj the ftrength of the feel- 
ing is cmafctilated j the Beautiful may remain, 
but the Sublime fs gone,— When Julius 
Casfar faid to the Pi-lot who was afraid to put 
to fea with him ift a ft6rm, *' Quid times ? 
K&f,^ *^ Csefafenri vchis 5" we are ftruck with the 
C^^;^ daring magnanimity of one relying with fuch 

confidence on his caufc and his fortune. Thefc 
few words convey every thing ncccflary to give 
us fhe imprefTion full. Lucan refolvcdto 
amplify and adorn the thought. Obfervchowi 
every time he twifts it round, k departs farther 
from the' Sublime^ till it end at laft in tumid 

Sperue mfnas, inquit, pclagi, ventoque furenti 
Trade finum : Italiam, fi, coelo audlore, recufas, 
Mc, pete. Sola tibi caufa ha;c eft jufta timoris 
VIclorcm non nofle tuuin ; qiiem numina nunqiiaiA 
l)cftituunt ; de quo male tcinc Fortuna meretitr 
Cum pod vota ve^it^ Medias perrumpe procellas 
Tuteli fecur^ mea. Coeli ifti fretique 
Non puppis noftras labor eft. Hanc CaeTare pfeflam 
A fl:u<5^u defendct onus ; vit^m pcoderit undis 
Ifte ratig :-— ^Qijid tanta ftrage paratur 
Ignoras ? quserit pelagi ccelique tuttiultu 
Quid praeftet foftuna mihi *. Phars. V. 578. 


' '■ • ■ -■ -^ ■ — '—\ — *-* - — I iir r I I ^ -■^■■riii -| ' "^^^ 

* Bat Ca^far flill fuperior to diilrefs, 

Fearlefs^ and confident of Aire faccefs, 

Tt" hus to the pil6t Toud :'-: The fea^ defprfc; 

And the vain chreat'niiig of the aoif/ ides; 




On accounc of th^ great importance oriim- 
plicity and concifcncfs, I conceive rhyme, in 
JEnglifh -verfe, to be, if not inconfiftcnt with 
the Sublime, at leaft very unfavourable to it. 
The conftrdned elegance of this kind of verfe, 
and ftudicd fmoothnefs of the founds, anfwer- 
iflg regularly to each other at the end of the 
line, though they be quite confiftent with geii- 
ric eniotions, yet weaken the native force of 
Sublimity j befides, that the fuperfluous words 
which the poet is often obliged to introduce, 
in order to fill up the rhyme, tend farther to* 
enfeeble it. Hooier's defcription of the nod 
of Jupiter, as. fhaking the heavens, has been 
admired in all ages, as highly Sublime. Li* 
terally tranflated, it runs thus ; " He fpoke. 


Thongh G^kI^ deny thee yon Aufbnian flraod* 

Yet gOy I charge you, go, at my command « 

"^^y ignorance alone can caafe tliy fears. 

Thou know'ft not what a freight thy vefTel bears j 

Thou know'ft not I am he to whom 'ti* given. 

Never to want the care of watchful heaven. 

Obedient Fortune w^its my humble thrall, 

And always ready, corner before I call. 

Let winds, and ieas, loud wars at freedom wage, 

And wade upon themfelves* their empty rage, 

A ftronger, mightier Dxmon is thy friend. 

Thou, and thy bark> on Ceefar's fate depend. 

Th«q ftand'Il amaz'd to view this dreadful fcene. 

And wonder'ftwhat the Gods and Fortune mean | 

But artfully their bounties thus they raife. 

And from my danger arrogate new praife : 

Amidd the fears of death they bid me live, 

AndiUll enh^Qce what they are fure to give, Rowe. 

G ^ "and 


L EC T. «« and bending his fable brows, gave the. awful 
^* nod ; while he Ihook the celeftial locks of 
** his immortal head, all Olympus was ftiaken." 
Mr. Pope tranflatcs it thus : 

Hefpokc ; and awful bends his fable brows. 
Shakes his ambrofial curls, and gives the nod. 
The (lamp of fate, and fanftion of a God, 
.t High Heaven with trembling the dread fignal took, 
"^ ^inif^^'i'^jQ And all Olympus to it^ centre fliook. 

The image is fpread out^ and attempted to 
be beautified j but it is, in truth, weakened. 
The third line — " The ftamp of fate, and 
** fanftion of a God,*' is merely expletive j and 
introduced for no other reafon but to fill up 
the rhyme ; for it interrupts the defcriptioh, 
and clogs the image. For the fame reafon, 
out of mere compliance with the rhyftie, Ju- 
piter is rcprefented as (haking his locks before 
he gives the nod j — ^' Shakes his ambrofial 
** curls, and gives the nod," which is trifling, 
and without meaning. Whereas, in the ori- 
ginal, the hair of his head fhaken, is the tfttdi* 
of his nod, and makes a happy pifturefque cir- 
cumftance in the defcription *. 

The boldnefs, freedom, and variety of our 
blank verfe, is infinitely more favourable than 
rhyme, to all kinds of Sublime poetry* The 
fullcft proof of this is afforded by Milton j an 

♦ S^e Webb pn the Bcaqtits of ^xxtry, 



author whole genius led him eminently to the l 1 &T. 
Sublime. The whole firfl: and fecond books 
of Paradife Loft^ are comimied inftances of it. 
Take only^ for an example^ the following 
noted defcription of Satan> after his fall^ ap* 
pearing at the head of the infernal hofts : 

—-He, above the reff. 
In Aape and gcfture proudly eminent. 
Stood like a tower : his form had not yet loft 
All her ol'iginal brightniefs, nor appeared 
LeCs than arcbang/el ruined i and the excefs 
Of glory obicured : As when the fun, new rifen, 
Looks through the horizontal mifty air^ 
Shorn of his beams ; or, from behind, the moon^ 
In dini eclipfe, difaftrotts twilight fheds 
On half the nations, and with fear of change 
Perplexes monarchs. Darkened fo, yet (hone 
Above them all th* Archangel.—^— 

Here concur a variety of fourcesi of the' 
Sublime : The principal objedl eminently 
great; a high fupcrior nature, fallen indeed, 
but ereftlng itfelf againft diftrefe; the gran- 
deur of the principal objeft heightened, by 
ailbciating it with fo noble an idea a$ that of 
the fun fufFering an eclipfi? ; this picture 
ihaded with all thofe images of change and 
trouble, of darknefs and terror^ which coin- 
cide fo, finely with the 5ublime emotion j and 
the Whole. exprefTed in a ftyle and verfifica- 
tion, eafy, natural, and fimple, but magnifi-. 
cefit. • ' 

G 4 . I HAVE 


L B e T. I HAVE fpoken of fimpUcity and concife- 
nefs^ as efTential to Sublime Writing. In 
my general defcription of it^ I mentioned 
Strength, as another ncccffary rcquifite. The 
Strength of defcription arifes, in a great mca- 
fure, from a limple concifenefs; but, it fup- 
pofes alfo fomething more j namely, a proper 
choice of circumftances in the defcription, fo 
as to exhibit the objed in its full and mod 
ftriking point of view. For every objcft has 
feveral faces, fo to fpeak, by which it may be 
preferited to us, according to the circum- 
ftances with which we furround it; and it will 
appekr eminently Sublime, or not, in propor- 
tion as all thefe circumftances are happily 
chofen, and pf a Sublime kind. Here lies 
the great art of the writer 5. and indeed, the 
great difficulty of Sublime defcription." If 
the defcription be too general, and diverted 
of circumftances, the objeft appears in a fainlf 
light i it makes a feeble imprcffion, or no im- 
prcffion at all, on the reader. At the fame 
time, if any trivial or improper circumftances 
arc npingled, the whole is degrade^. . 

A STORM or tempeft, for inftance, is a 
Sublime objeft in nature. But, to render it 
Sublime in defcription, it is not enough^ ei- 
ther to give ys mere general exbreffions con- 
cerning the violence of the tempeft, or to cJcr 
iVribe its common, vulgar efFefts, in over- 


throwing trees and houfes.. It muft be l e^ c t. 
painted with fuch circumftances as fill the y^ 
mind with great and awful ideas. This is 
very happily done by Virgil, in the following 
paffagc : 

Jpfe Pater, media nimborum in node, corufca 
Fulmina molitur dcxtra ; quo maxima motu 
Terra tremit; fugere ferae; & mortalia corda. 
Per gentes humilis ftravit pavor : Hie, flagranti 
Aut Atho, aut Rhodopen, aut alta Ceraunia telo 
Dcjicit*.— — Georc.I, 

Every circumftancc in this noble defcriptioa 
is the produdion of an imagination heaxed 
and aftonilbed with the grandeur of the 
objeftf If there be any defcft, it is in the 
words irpipediately foUowixig thofc I have 
quoted; " Ingemipant Auftri, et denfiflimus 
*' imbcf;** where the tranfition is made too 
haftilyi I ^^ afraid, from the preceding 

• Th^ Father of the Gods his glory Airouds» 

InvoivM in tempefts, and a night of clouds : , 

And from the middle darknefs flaihing out, 1; ^^ , ' 

By fits he deals his fiery bolts about. 

Earth feels the motions of her angry God, j 

Her entrails tremile, and her mountains nod, v 

And flying beafts in forcfts feek abode. J 

Deep horror feizes every human bread; 

Their pride is humbled, and their fears confefi ; 

\Vhile he, from high his rolling thunders throws. 

And fires the mountains with repeated blows; 

The rocks are from their old foundations rent; 

I'hfi winds redouble, and the rains augment. Dkydbk. 



Sutli me images, tcv a thick fbower, and the 
blowing of the fbuth windj and (be\Ys Ik>w 
difficult it frequently is> to defcead with gface> 
without feeming to falL 

The high importance of the rule which 
I have been now giving, concerning the pro- 
per choice of circumftances, when defcriptioa 
is meant to be Sublime, feems to me not to 
have beea fufficiently attended to. It has, 
however, fuch a foundation in nature, as rea- 
ders the leaft deflexion from it fatal. When a 
writer is aiming at the beautiful only, his de- 
scriptions may have improprieties ifi them, 
and yet be beautiful ftilf. Sdme trivial, or 
misjudged circumftances can be overlooked 
by the reader ; they make only the diffefefiice 
of more or lefs ; the gay, or pleafing emotion, 
which he has raifed, fubfifts ftill. But the 
cafe is quite difPefent with the Sublime. 
There, one trifling circumftance, one mean 
idea, is fufficient to deftroy the whole charm. 
This is owing tc the nature oS the errM>tion 
aimed at by Sublin[>e defcription, which ad- 
mits of no mediocrity, and cannot fubfift in a 
middle ftate ; but muft either highly tranfport 
us, or, if unfuccefsful in the execution, leave 
us greatly difgufted, and difpleafed. We 
attempt to rife along with the writer; the 
imagination is awakened, and put upon the 
ftretch i^ but it re<:|uires to be fupportedi and 



if, in the midft of its effort, ydu defcrt it un- 
expefledly, down it comes with a painful 
Ihock. When Milton, in his battle of the 
angels, dcfcribes them as tearing up the 
mountains, and throwing them at one another; 
there are, in his dcfcription, as Mr. Addifoa 
has obferved, no circumftances but what arc 
properly Sublime : 

From thcrr foundations loos'ning to and fro. 
They plucked the feated hills, with all their loAd^ 
Rocks, waters, woods,; and by the fhaggy tops 
Uplifting, bore them in their hands. 

Whereas Glaudian, in a fragment upon the 
war of the giants, has contrived to render this 
idea of their throwing the mountains, which 
is in irfclf fo grand, burlefque and ridiculous s 
by this fingle circumftance, of one of his 
giants with the mountain Ida upon his (houl- 
ders, and a river, which flowed frona the 
mountain, running down along the giant's 
back, as he held it up in tharpofturc. There 
is a dcfcription too in Virgil, which, I think, 
is cenfurable, though more flightly, in this 
refpeft. It is that of the burning mountain 
JEtna i a fubjeft certainly very proper to be 
worked up by a poet into a Sublime defcrip- 
tion : 

Horrificis juxta tonat iEtna ruinis. 

Interdumque atram prorumpit ad aethera nubem. 
Turbine fumantem piceo, & candente favilla ; 
^ttollitque globos flammarum, & ildera lambit. 

8 Interdum 


L £ C t* Interdum fcopulM, avulfaque vifcera monti» 
^^' ^ Erigit erudbns,' liquefa^aque faxa Tub auras 

Cum gemitu glomerat, fundoque exaeftu^t imo *. 

JEnAlL 571, 

Here, after feveral magnificent images, the 
Poet concludes with pcrfonifying the mountain 
linder this figure, ** erudtans vifcera cum ge- 
** mitu,'* belching up its bowels with a groan; 
which, by -likening the mountain to a fick, or 
drunk perfon, degrades the majcfty 0^ the dc- 
fcription. It is to no purpofe to tell ys, that 
the Poet here alludes to the fable of the giant 
Enceladu§ lying under, mount ^tna; and that 
he fuppofes his motions and toflings to have 
occafioned the fiery eruptions. He intended 
the defcription of ^Sublime obje(^; ^nd the 
natural ideas, r^ifed by a burning mountain, 
are infinitely niore lofty, t;han th^ bclchipgs 
of any giant, how huge fo^ver. The debaf- 
ing efFcdt of the idea which is here prefcnted. 


* The port capacious^ and fecure from wtnii. 
Is tQ the foot of thundering i£taa joined. 
By turns a pitchy cloud {h,t rolls on high, 
By turns hot embers from her entrails fly, 
And flakes of mounting flames that lick the iky. 
Qft from her bowels mafly rocks are thrown. 
And fhivered by the force, come piece-meal down. 
Oft liquid lakes of burning folphur flow, 
Fed from the fiery fprings thatbjil below. DRYOEtf. 
In tf4s tranflation of Bryden's, the debating circumflai^ce 
to which I ohje^ in the original, is, with propriety, 
Ptftittcd, - . * 



will appear in a ftrongcr light, by feeing what l e c t^ 
figure it makes in a poem of Sir Richard 
Bkckmore^s, who, through a monftrous per- 
verfity of taftc, had chofen this for the capital 
circumftance in his defcription^ and thereby 

' • • • 

(as Dr.* Arbuthnot humoroufly obferves, in 
his Treatife on the Art of Sinking) had re- 
prefented the mountain as in a fit of the 

^tna, and all the burning mountains find 
Their kindled ftores with inbred ftorms of wind 
Blown up to rage^ and roaring out complain* 
As torn with in\irard gripes and torturing p^in ; 
Labouring, they caft their dreadful vomit round. 
And with their melted bowels fprcad the grounds 

Such inftances jQiew how much the Sublime 
depends upon a juft feleftion of circumftances i 
and with how great care every circumftahcc 
muft be avoided, which, by bordering in the 
Icafl: upon the mean, or even upon the gay or 
the trifling, alters the tone of the emotion^ 

If it ihall now be enquired. What are the 
proper fources of the Sublime ? My anfwer is, 
'That they arc to be looked for every where in 
nature. It is not by hunting after tropes, and 
^gures, and rhetorical afliftances, that we can 
exped: to produce it. No : it . (tands clear, 
for the moft part, of thefe laboured refinements 
of art* It mult come unfought^- if it come at 




L E c T. all I and be the natural offspring of a ftFong 

Eft Deus in nobis ; agitante cakfclmus illo* 

Wherever a great and awful objeft is prefented 
in nature, or a very magnanimous and exalted 
affedion of the human mind is difplaycd; 
thence, if you can catch the imprcflion 
ftrongly, and exhibit it warm and glowing, 
you may draw, the Sublime. Thefe are its 
only proper fources. In judging of any ftrik- 
ing beauty in compofition, whether it is, or is 
not, to be referred to this clafs, we muft at- 
tend to the nature of the emotion which it 
raifcsi and only, if it be of that elevating, fo- 
iemn, and awful kind> which diftinguifhes this 
fetling, we can pronounce it Sublime. 

From the account which I have given of 
the nature of the Sublime, it clearly follows, 
that it is an emotion which can never be long 
protrafted. The mind, by no force of genius, 
can be kept, for any confiderablc time> fo far 
raifed above its common tone 5 but will", of 
courfe, relax into its ordinary fituation. Nei- 
ther are the abilities of any human writer fuf* 
ficient to furnifli a long continuation of unin- 
terrupted Sublime ideas. The utmofl: we can 
expeft isi that this fire of imagination ftiould 
fometimes flafli upon us like lightning from 
heaven, and then difappear. In Homer and 



Milton, this effulgence of genius breaks forth 
more frequently, and with greater luftre than 
in nK>il authors. Shakefpeare alfo rifes often 
into the true SuBlime* But no author what- 
ever is Sublime throughouti. Some, indeed, 
there are, who, by a ftrength and dignity in 
their conceptions, and a current of high ideas 
th^t runs through their whole compofition, 
preferve the reader^s mind always in a tone 
nearly allied to the Sublime; for which reafon 
they may, in a limited fenfe, merit the ^amc 
of continued Sublime writers ; and, in this 
clals, we may juftly place Demofthcncs and 

As for what i« called the Sublime %le, k 
is, for the nf>oft part, 3 very bad one ; and 
iias no relation whatever to the real Sublime'. 
Perfone are apt- to imagine, that magnificent 
words, accumulated epithets, and a certaili. 
fwelling kind of expreffion, by rifing above 
what is ufual or Tulgar, contributes 'to, or even 
forms, the Sublime. Nothing can be more 
falfc. In all theinftances of Sublime Writi-ng, 
which I have giren, nothing of this kind ap- 
pears. '' God faid, Let there be light, and 
** there was light/' This is ftriking and 
Sublime. But put it into what is commonly 
called the Sublime ftyle: ^^ The Sovereign 
*' Arbiter of nature, by the potent energy of 
*• a fingle word, comtnanckd the light to 

' " cxift}" 


LECT, '< exiftj" and, as Boileau has well obfcrvcd, 


the ftyle indeed is raifedj but the thought is 
fallen. In general, in all good writing, the 
Sublime lies in the thought, not in the words^ 
and when the thought is truly nobl^ it will^ 
for the moft part, clothe itfclf in a native dig- 
nity oC language. The Sublime, indeed, re- 
jefts mean, low, or trivial expreflions ; . but 
it is equally an enemy to fuch as are turgid. 
The main fecret of being Sublime, is to fay 
great things in few and plain words* It will 
be found to hold, without exception, that the 
Kiofl: Strblime authors ire the fimpleft in their 
ftyle; and wherever you find a writer, who 
aSedts a more than ordinary pomp and parade 
of words> and is always endeavouring to mag- 
nify his fubjeA by epithets, there you may 
immediately fufpeft, that, feeble in fentimenr> 
he is ftudying to fupport himfelf by m/ere ex- 

TttE fame unfavourable judgment we mull 
pafs, on all that laboured apparatus with which 
fome writers introduce a palTage^ or defer ip- 
tion, which they intend fhall be Sublinne ^ 
calling on their readers to attend, invoking 
their Mufe> or breaking forth into general, ua**- 
meaning excIamations> concerning the great*^ 
©els, terriblenefs, or majefly of the obje<5l^ 
which they are to defcribe. Mr. Addiibn, ia 
his Campaign, has fallen into an error of this 



Icfnd, when about to dcfcribe the battle of l e c t. 

Biit O ! my Mufe I what humfcers wilt thoti find 
To fing the furious troops ih battle join*d ? 
MethinkSp I hear the drum's tumultuous found. 
The vigor's ihouts, and dying groans, confound 5 &Ck 

Introdudions of this kind, are a forced at- 
tempt in a Writer, to fpur up himfelf, and hii 
deader, when he finds his imagination b^gift 
to dag; It is like taking anificial fpirits xti 
btdc'r to fupply the: want of fuch as are natural. 
By this obfervation, however, I do not mean 
to pafs a gerteral cenfure oh Mr. Addifon*s 
Campaign, which, in fcveral places, is far 
ttom wahting merit; and, in particular, the 
noted comparifon of his hero to the angel 
who rides in the whirlwind and direfts the 
ilorrn. Is a truly Sublime image* 

The faults oppolite to the Sublime are 
chiefly two; the Frigid, and the Bombaft* 
The Frigid confifts, in degrading an object, 
or fentiment, which is Sublime in itfelf, by 
our mean conception of it j or by our weak, 
low, and childifh defcription of it. This be- 
trays entire abfcnce^ or at leaft great poverty 
of genius. Of this, there are abundance of 
examples, and thcfe commented upon with 
I much humour, in the treatife on the Art 
of Sinking, in Dean Swift's works; the in- 

VoL. I. H iiances 


ftances taken chiefly from Sir Richard Black* 
more. One of thefe, I had occafion already 
to give, in relation to mount ^tna, and it 
were needlefs to produce any more. The 
Bombaft lies, in forcing an ordinary or trivial 
objcd: out of its rank, and endeavouring to 
raife it into the Sublime; or, in attempting to 
exalt a Sublime objeA beyond all natural and 
reafonable bounds. Into this efror, which i$ 
but too common, writers of genius may fome- 
times fall, by unluckily lofing fight of the 
true point of the Sublime. This is aifo called 
Fuftian, or Rant. Shakefpeare, a great> but 
incorredl genius, is not unexceptionable here* 
Dryden and Lee^ in their tragedies^ abound 
with it. 

Thus far of the Sublime; of whicbl have 
treated fully, becaufe it is fo capital an excel- 
lency in fine writing, and becaufe clear and 
precife ideas on this head are, as far as I know,r 
not to be met with in critical writers. 

Before 1 conclude this Lefture, there is- 
one obfervation which I chufe to make at this 
time J f fliall make jt once for all, and hope 
it will be afterwards remembered. It is with 
refpect to the inftances of faults, or rather 
blemirties and imperfeftions, which, as I have 
done in this Lefture, I fball hereafter continue 
to take, when I can, from writers of reputa- 


tion. I have not the Icaft intention thereby 
to difparage their chara£ter in the general. I 
ihall have other occafions of doing equal 
juftice to their beauties. But it is no reflec- 
tion on any human performance^ that it is not 
abfolutely perfefl:. The tafk would be much 
eafieit for me^ to coUeft inftances of faults 
from bad writers. But they would draw no 
attention, when quoted from books which no« 
body reads. And I conceive^ that the me- 
thod which I follow, will (Contribute more to 
make the beft authors be read with plcafure^ 
when one properly dillinguiflies their beauties 
from their faults ; and is led to imitate and 
adaiire only what is worthy of imitation and 
admiration k 

H a 






* • 

AS Sublimity conftitutcs a particular cha<^ 
rafter of compofition, and forms one of 
the bighfcft excellchcics of eloquence and of 
ppetry, it was proper to treat of it at fome 
length. It will not be neceffary tq difcufs fo, 
particularly all the other pleafures that arife 
from Tafte, as fome of them have lefs relation 
to our main fubjeft. On Beauty only I (hall 
make feveral obfervations, both as the fub- 
je6t is curious, and as it tends to improve 
Tafte, and to difcover the foundation of fe- 
deral of the graces of defcription and- of 
poetry *. 

Beautv, next to Sublimity, affords, be- 
yond doubt, the higheft pleafure to the ima- 


* See Hatchinibn's Enquiry concerning Beauty and 
Virtue. — Gerard on Tafte, chap, iii, — Enquiry into the 
Origin of the Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.— ^Ele- 
inents of Criticifm, chap. iii,«-«kSpeQator, vol. vi. — EfTay 
on the Pleafures of Tafie. 



-gination. The emotion which it raifes, is 
very diftinguifliable from that of Sublimity. 
It is of a cahrier kind ; more gentle and footh- 
itig; does not elevate the mind fo much, but 
produces an agreeable ferenity. Sublimity 
raifes a feeling, too violent, as I (howed, to 
be lading ; the pleafure arifing from Beauty 
admits of longer continuance. It extends alfo 
to a much greater variety of objefts than Sub-r 
Ilmity ; to a variety indeed fo greats that the 
feelings which Beautiful objefts produce, dif- 
fer confiderably, not in degree only, but alfo 
in kind, from one another. Hence, no word 
in the language is ufcd in a more vague figni- 
fication than Beauty. It is applied to almofl: 
jevery external objeft that pleafes the eye, or 
the ear; to a great number of the graces of 
writing; to many difpoficions of the mind; 
nay, to feveral objefts of mere abllraft fcience. 
We talk currently of a beautiful tree or flower; 
q, beautiful poem ; a beautiful charafter; and 
d> beautiful theorem in jnatbcm^tics. 


Hence we may eafily perceive, that, among 
fo great a variety of objedls, to find out fome 
one quality in which they all agree, and which 
h the foundation of that agreeable fenfatioa 
they all raife, mull be a very difficult, if not, 
ijiore probably, a vain attempt. Objedlsj 
Renominated Beautiful, are fo different, as tp 

H 3 pleafe, 

ie« BEAUTY. 

pleafc, hot in virtue of any one quality com- 
mon to them all, but by means of fcveral 
different principles in human nature. The 
agreeable emotion which they all raife, is 
fomewhat of the fame nature i and, therefore, 
has the common name of Beauty given to it s 
but it is raifed by different caufes. 

Hypotheses, however, have been framed by 
ingenious men, for affigning the fundamental 
quality of Beauty in all objefts. In particu- 
lar. Uniformity amidft Variety, has been in- 
fifled.oh as this fundamental quality. For 
the Beauty of many figures, I admit that this 
accounts in a fatisfaftory manner. But when 
we endeavour to apply this principle to Beau-* 
tiful objedbs of fome other kind, as to Colour, 
for inftance, or Motion, we (hall foon find that 
it has no place. And even in external figured 
objcdts, it does not hold, that their Beauty is 
in proportion to their mixture of Variety with 
Uniformity i feeing many plcafe us as highly 
beautiful, which have almoft no variety at alii 
' $nd others, which are various to a degree of 
intricacy. Laying fyftems of this kind, there- 
for^, afide, what I now, to give an 
enumeration of feveral of thofe claffes of ob- 
jedts in which Beauty moft remarkably ap- 
pears j and to point out, as far as I can, 
the feparate principle;^ of Beauty in each of 


BEAUTY. 103 

Colour affords, perhaps, the fimpleft in- 
ftance of Beauty, and therefore the fitted to 
begin w:ith. Here, neither Variety, nor Uni- 
formity, nor any other principle that I know, 
can be afligned, as the foundation of Beauty. 
We can refer it to no other caufc but the 
ftrudture of the eye, which determines us to 
receive certain modifications of the rays of 
light with more pleafure than others. And 
we fee accordingly, that, as the organ of fen- 
fatioir varies in different perfons, they have, 
their different favourite colours. It is pro* 
bable, that affociation of ideas has influence, 
in fome cafes, on the pleafure which we re- 
ceive fr(Hn colours. Green, for inftance, 
n>ay appear more beautiful, by being con^ 
ne6bed in our ideas with rural profpeds and 
fceness white, with innocence; blue, with 
the ferenity of the Iky. Independent of aflb- 
ciations of this kind, all that we can farther 
obferve , concerning colours is, that thofe 
chofen for Beauty are, generally, delicate, ra- 
ther than glaring. Such are thofe paintings 
with which nature hath ornamented fome of 
her works, and which art drives in vain to 
inriitate ; as the feathers of feveral kinds ol 
birds, the leaves of flowers, and the fine va- 
riation of colours exhibited by the Iky at the 
rifing and fetting of the fun. Thefe pre- 
fent to us the higbed indances of the Beauty 
of colouring \ and have accordingly been the 

H 4 * fayourite 

164 BEAUTY. 

L E c T. favourite fubjedts of poetical defcription in all 


» From Colour we proceed to Figure, which 
opens to us forms of Beauty more complex 

and diverfified. Regularity firft occurs to be 
noticed as a fource of Beauty. By a regular 
figure, is meant, one which we perceive to be 
formed according to fome certain rule, and 
not left arbitrary, or loofe, in the conftrwflion 
of its parts. Thus, a circle, a fquare, a tri- 
angle, or a hexagon, pleafe the eye, by their 
i^gularity, as beautiful figures. Wc muft 
nor, however, conclude, that all figures pleafe 
in proportion to their regularity ; or that re- 
gularity is the fole, or the chief, foundation 
of Beauty in figure. On the contrary, a cer- 
tain graceful variety is found to be a much 
more powerful principle of Beauty ; and is 
therefore ftudied a great deal more than regu- 
larity, in all works that are defigned merely 
to pleafe the eye. I am, indeed, inclined to 
think, that regularity appears beautiful to us, 
chiefly, if not only, on account of its fuggcft- 
ing the ideas of firnefs, propriety, and ufe, 
which have always a greater conneftioa with 
orderly and proportioned forms, than with 
thofe which appear not conftru6ted according 
to any certain rule. It is clear, that Nature, 
who is undoubtedly the mod: graceful artift, 
hath, in all her ornamental, works, purfuedf 


BEAUTY. 10$ 

Variety, with an apparent negleft of regu- i* e C. t. 
larity. Cabinets, doors, and windows, are 
made after a regular form, in cubes and pa- 
rallelograms, with exaft proportion of parts j 
and by being fo formed they pleafe the eye; 
for this good reafon, that, being works of ufe, 
they are, by fuch figures, the better fuited to 
the ends for which they were defigned. But 
plants, flowers, and leaves are full of variety 
and diverfity. A ftraight canal is an infipid 
figure, in comparifon of the mseanders of rivers. 
Cones and pyramids are beautiful j but trees 
growing ih their natural wildnefs, are infinitely 
more beautiful than when trimmed into pyramids 
and cones. The apartments of a houfe muft be 
regular in their difpofition, for the conveniency 
of its inhabitants ; but a garden, which'is de-'. 
figned merely for Beauty, would be exceedingly 
difgufting, if it had as much uniformity and 
order in its parti as a dwelling-houfe, 

Mr. Hogarth, in his Analyfis of Beauty, 
has obferved, that figures bounded by curve 
lines are, in general, more beautiful than 
thofe bounded by ftraight lines and angles. 
He pitches upon two lines^ on which, ac- 
cording to him, the Beauty of figure princi- 
pally depends j and he has illuftrated, ancj 
fupported his dodtrine, by a furprifing num- 
ber of inftances. The one is the Waving 
l-ine^ or a .curve bending backwards and 


io6 B E A U T y. 

forwards,, fomcwhat in the form of the letter. 
S. This he calls the Line of Beauty; and 
fliews how often it is found in Ihells, flowers, 
and fuch other ornan^ental works of nature; 
as is common alfb in the figures deflgned by 
painters and fculptors> for the purpofe of de- 
coration. The other Line, which he calls 
the Line of Grace, is the former waving 
curve, twifted round fome folid body. The 
curling worm of a commaa jack is one of the 
inftances he gives of it. Twifted pillars, 
and twifted horns, alfo exhibit it. In all the 
inftances which he mentions. Variety plainly 
appears to be fo material a principle of Beauty, 
that he feems not to err much when he defines 
the art of drawing pleafing forms, to be the art 
of varying well. For the curve line, fo much 
the favourite of painters, derives, according to 
him, its chief advantage, from its perpetual 
bending and variation from the ftiif regularity 
of the ftraight line. 

Motion furnilhes another fourcc of Beauty, 
diftind from Figure. Motion of itfelf is 
pleafing ; and bodies in motion are, ** casteris 
** paribus," preferred to thofe in reft. It is, 
however, only gentle motion that belongs to 
the Beautiful ; for when it is very fwift, or 
very forcible, fuch as that of a torrent, it par- 
takes of the Sublime. The motion of a bird 
gliding through the air, is extremely Beauti* 

8. fMll 

BEAUTY. 107 

fulj the fwiftncfs with which lightning darts L e c t. 
through the hcaveas, is magnificent and afto- 
nifhing. And here, it is proper to obfervc, 
that the fenfations of Sublime and Beautiful 
are not always diftinguiflied by very diftant 
boundaries i but are capable, in feveral in- 
ftances, of approaching towards each other. 
Thus, a fmooth running ftream, is one of 
the mofl: beautiful objefts in nature : as ic 
fwells gradually into a great river, the Beauti- 
ful, by degrees, is loft in the Sublime. A 
young tree is a beautiful objeft j a fprcading 
antient oak, is a venerably and a grand one« 
The calmnefs of a fine morning is Beautiful 5 
the univerfal ftillnefs of the evening is highly 
Sublime. But to return to the Beauty of mo- 
tion, it will be found, I think, to hold very 
generally, that motion in a ftraight line is not 
fo beautiful as in an undulating waving direc- 
don ;• and motion upwards is, commonly too, 
more agreeable than motion downwards. 
The eafy curling motion of flame and fmoke 
may be inftanced, as an objeft fingularly 
agreeable : and here Mr. Hogajth's waving 
line recurs upon us as a principle of Beauty. 
That artift obferves very ingenioufly, that 
all the common and neceflary motions for 
the bufmefs of life, are performed by men 
in ftraight or plain lines; but that all the 
graceful and ornamental movements are made 
if) waying lines : an obfervation not unworthy 



ic^ BEAUT y. 

I. E Q T. of being attended to, by all who iftudy the 
grace of gefture and aftion. 

Though Colour, Figure, and Motion, be 
feparate principles of Beauty j yet in many 
beautiful obje6b they all meet, and thereby 
render the Beauty both greater, and more 
complex. Thus, in flowers, trees, animals, 
we are entertained at once with the delicacy of 
the colour, .with the graccfulnefs of the figure, 
and fometimes alfo with the motion of the ob- 
J€(5l. Although each of thefe produce a fepa- 
rate agreeable fenfation, yet they are of fuch 
a fimilar nature, as readily to mix and blend 
in one general perception of Beauty, which we 
afcribe to the whole obje£t as its caufe: for 
Beauty is always conceived by us, as fome* 
thing refiding in the objcft which raifes the 
pleafant fenfation j a fort of glory which 
dwells upon, and inverts it. Perhaps the 
moft complete aflemblage of beautiful objcds 
that can any where be found, is prefented by 
a rich natural landfcape, where there is a fuffi- 
cient variety of objefts: fields in verdure, 
fcattered trees and flowers, running water, and 
animals grazing. If to thefe be joined, fome 
of the produftions of art, which fuit fuch a 
fcene ; as a bridge with arches over a river, 
fmoke rifing from cottages in the midft of 
trees, and the diftant view of a fine building 
/een by the rifing fun s we then enjoy, in the 
. , ' higheO; 


BEAUTY/ ^ K)^ 

higheft perfedion, that gay, cheerful, alfid l e^^c t'/ 
placid fenfation which charaftcrifes Beauty. 
To have an eye and a tafte formed for catch- 
ing the peculiar Beauties of fuch fcenes as/ 
thefe, is a neceffary requifite for all who ai-* 
tempt poetical dcfcriptio». 

The Beauty of the human countenance is 
more complex than any that we have yet con- 
fidered. It includes the Beauty of colour, 
arifing from the delicate Ihades of the com- 
plexion f and the Beauty of figure, arifing 
from the lines which form the difitrent fea-^ 
tures of the face. But the chief Beauty of the 
countenance depends upon a myfterious ex- 
prcffion, which it conveys of the qualities of 
the mind ; of good fenfe, or good humour 5 
of fprightlinefs, candour, benevolence, fenfi- 
bility, or other amiable difpolltions. How it 
comes to pafs, that a certain conformation of 
features is connefted in our idea with certain 
moral qualities j whether we are taught by 
inftindt, or by experience, to form this con- 
nexion, and to read the mind in the counte-^ 
nance ; belongs not to us now to enquire, 
nor is indeed eafy to refolve. The faft is cer- 
tain, and acknowledged, that what gives the 
human countenance its moft diftinguifliing 
Beauty, is what is called its exprcflion j or 
an image, which it rs conceived to (hew of in- 
ternal moral difpofitions.^ ' ■' ' 


ito BEAUT Y. 

This leads us to obfcrvc, that there arc 
certain qualities of the mind, which, whether 
expreffed in the countenance, or by words, or 
by anions, always raife in iis a feeling fimilar 
to that of Beauty. There arc two great clafTes 
of moral qualities ; one is of the high and the 
great virtues, which require extraordinary ef* 
forts ; and turii upon dangers and fufferingis $ 
as hcroifm, magnanimity, contempt of plca- 
fures, and contempt of death. Thefe, as I 
have obfervcd in a former Lcfttire, excite in 
the fpedator an emotion of Sublimity and 
Grandeur. The other clafs is generally of the 
ibcial virtues, and fuch as are of a fofter and 
gentler kind ; as compafllon, mildnefs, friend* 
fcip, and gcnerofity* Thefe raife in the be- 
holder a fenfation of pleafure, fo much akiil 
to that produced by Beautiful external objeds^ 
that, though of a" more dignified nature, it 
tnay, without impropriety, be claiTed under the 
lame head. 

A SPECIES of Beauty, diftindl: from any t 
have yet mentioned, arifes from defign or art i 
or, in other words, from the perception of 
means being adapted to an end ; or the parts 
of any thing being well fitted to anfwer the 
defign of the whole. When, in confidering 
the ftrufture of a tree or a plant, we obfervc, 
how all the parts, the roots, the ftem, the 
b4rk> and the leaves^ are fuited to the growth 



and nutriment of the whole : much more L e c t. 
when we furVcy all the parts and meoibers of 
a living animal j or when we examine any of 
the curious works of art ; fuch as a clock, a 
fliip> or any nice machine ; the pleafure which 
ve have in the furvey, is wh6lly founded on 
this fenfe of Beauty. It is altogether different 
from the perception bf Beauty produced by 
colour, figure, variety, or any of the caufes 
formerly mentioned. When I look at a watch, 
for inftance, the. cafe of it, if finely engraved, 
and of curious workmanfhip, ftrikcs me as 
Beautiful in the former Tenfe ; bright colour, 
exquifite poliih, figures finely raifed and 
turned. But when I examine the fpring and 
thewheels, and praife the Beauty of the in- 
ternal noachineryi my pleafure then arifcs 
wholly from the view of that admirable art, 
with which fo many various and coniplicated 
parts are made to unite for one purpofe. 

This fenfe of Beauty, in fitnefs and defigni 
has an extenfiye influence over many of our 
ideas* It is the foundation of the Beauty 
which we difcover in the proportion of doors^ 
windows, arches, pillars, and all the orders 
of architefture. Let the ornaments of ^ 
building be ever fo fine and elegant in them* 
fclves, yet if they interfere with this fenfe of 
fitnefs and defign, they lofe their Beauty, and 
hurt the eye, like difagreeable objeds. Twitted 


%tt B E A tJ T Yi 

^ \^ ^' columns, for inftancc, are undoubtedly orha-* 
mental ; but as they have an appearance of 
wcaknefs, they always difpleafe when they are 
made ufe of to fupport any part of a building 
that i$ mafly, and that feems to require a more 
iubftantial prop* We cannot look upon any 
work whatever, without being led, by a na- 
tural alTociation of ideas, to think of its end 
4nd defign, an4 of eourfe to exai;nine the pro- 
priety of its parts, in relation to this deiign 
and end. When their propriety is .clearly 
difcerned, the work feems always to have foaie 
Beauty ; but when there is a tot^l. want of 
propriety, it never fails of appearing deformed* 
Our fcnfe of fitnefs and defign, therefore, is 
fo powerful, and holds fo high a r^rtk among 
our perceptions, as to regulate, in a greac 
meafurc, our other ideas of Beauty : An ob- 
fervation which I the rather make, as it is of 
the utmoft importance, that all who ftudy 
compofitioh fliould carefully attend to it. For, 
in an epic poeo), a hiftory, an oration. Or any 
work of genius, we always require, as we do 
in other works, a fitnefs, or adjuftment of 
means, to the end which the author is fup- 
pofed to have in view. Let his defcriptions be 
?ver fo rich, or his figures ever fo elegant, 
yet, if they are out of place, if they are not 
proper parts of that whole, if they fuit not the 
main defign, they lofe all their Beauty i nay, 
from Beauties they arc converted into De-j 
I formities. 

^ E A XJ T V. 113 

foMlities. S4jch power has our fenfc of fitnefs t k c t. 
and congruity, to produce a total transforma* . 
tion of an objeft v^hofe appearance otherwife 
would have been Beautiful. 

' Aft^r having mentioned fo miny various , 
ipecics of Beauty, it now only remains to take 
notice of Beauty as it is applied to writing or 
difcourfe; a term commonly ufed in a fenfe 
altogether loofc and undetermined. For it is 
applied to all that pleafes, either in ftyle or 
in fcntiment, from whatever principle that 
pleafure flows ; and a Beautiful poem or ora- 
tion means, in common language, no other 
than a good one, or one well compofed. In 
this fenfe, it is plain, the word is altogether 
indefinite, and points at no particular fpecies 
or kind of Beauty^ There is, however, another 
fenfe, fomewhat more definite, in which Beauty 
of writing charafterifes a particular manner; 
when it is ufed to fignify a certain grace and 
amasnity in the turn either of flyle or fenti- 
ment, for which fomc authors have been pe- 
culiarly diflinguiihed. In this fenfe, it de- 
notes a manner neither remarkably fublime, 
nor vehemently paflionate, nor uncommonly 
fparkling ; but fuch as raife^ in the reader an 
emotion of the gentle placid kind, fimilar to 
what is raifed by the contemplation of beauti- 
ful objefts in nature -, which neither lifts the 
mind very high, nor agitates it very much. 
Vol. L I but' 


but diffufes over the imagination an agreeable 
and pleafing ferenity. Mr. Addifon is a 
writer altogether of this character i and is one 
of the moft proper and precife exaaiples that 
can be given of it. Fenelon, the author 
of the Adventures of Telcmachus, may be 
given as another example. Virgil too, though 
very capable of rifing on occafions into 
the Sublime, yet, in his general man- 
ner, is diftinguifhed by the chara&er of 
Beauty and Grace, rather than of Subli* 
mity. Among orators, Cicero has nwre of 
the Beautiful than Demofthenes, whofe ge- 
nius led him wholly towards vehemence and 

This much it is fuificient to have faid upoD 
the* fubjeiSt of Beauty. We have traced it 
through a variety of forms j as next to Sub- 
limity, it is the moft copious fource of the 
Pleafures of Tafte; and as the confideratiou 
of the diflPerent appearances, and principles of 
Beauty, tends to the improvement of Tafte m 
many fubjefts. 

But it is not only by appearing uoder the 
forms of Sublime or Beautiful, that obje^bi 
delight the imagination. From feveral other 
principles alfo, they derive their power of 

giving it pleafure. 



Novelty, for inftancc, has been menn f' ^^ '^* 
tioned by Mr. Addifon, and by every writer u^ * 
on this fubjeft. An obje6t which has no me- 
rit to recommend it, except its being uncom- 
mon or new, by means of this quality alone, 
produces in the mind a vivid and an agreeable 
enaction* Hence that paflion of curiofity, 
which prevails fo generally among mankiijd, 
Objeds and ideas which have been long fanai- 
liar, make too faint an impreflion to give, an 
agreeable exercife to otr faculties. New and 
ftrange objects roule the mind from its dor-f 
mant ftate, by giving it a quick and pleafmg 
impulfe. Hence, in a great meafure, the 
entertainment afforded us by fif^ion and ro- 
mance. The emotion raifed by Novelty is of 
a more lively and pungent nature, than that 
produced by Beauty j but much fliorter in its 
continuance. For if the obje£t have in itfelf 
no charms to hold our attention, the fhining 
glofs thrown upon it by Novelty foon wears 

Besides Novelty, Imitation is another 
fource of Pleafure to Tafte. This gives 
rife to what Mr. Addifon terms, the Second- 
ary Pleafures of Imagination; which form, 
doubtlefs, a very extenfivc clafs. For all 
Imitation affords fome pleafure; not only the 
Imitation of beautiful or great objedls, by 
recalling the original ideas of Beauty or Gran- 

I 2 dcur 


L Ej^ t: deur which fuch objcfts thcmftlves exhibited ; 
but even objefts whidh have neither Beauty 
nor Grandeur, nay, fomc ^hich are terrible or 
deformed, plcafe us in a fecondary or reprc- 
fented view^ 


The Pleafures of Melody and Harmony 
belong alfo to Talle. There is no agreeable 
fenfatibn we receive, either from Beauty or 
Sublimity, but what is capable of being 
heightened by the power of mufical found. 
Herlce th« delight of poetical numbers ^ and 
icveri of the more concealed and loofef rtiea- 
fures of profe. Wit, Humour, and Ridi- 
cule likewife ofpen a variety of Pleafures to 
Tafte, quite diftindt from any that we have ye^ 

At prefent it is not neceflary td piirfueariy 
farther the fubjeft of the Pleafufes of Tafte. 
I have opened fame of the general principles f 
it is time now to make the application to our 
<:hief fubjeft. If the queftion be put. To 
what clafs of thofe Pleafures of Tafte which I 
have enumerated, that Pleafure is to be re- 
ferred, which we receive from poetry, elo-^ 
qucnce, or fine writing ? My anfwer is, Not 
to any one, but to them ali. This lingular 
advantage, writing and difcourfe poffefs, that 
they encompafs fb large and rich a field on all 
fides, and hav.e power to exhibit, in great 



perfcftion, not a Tingle fct of objcfts only,* 
but almoft the whole of thofc which give Plea.- 
fure to Tafte and Imagination ; whether that 
Plcafure arife from Sublimity, from Beaytj^ in 
its different forms, from De(ign and Art, from 
Moral Sentiment, from Novelty, from Har-» 
mony, from Wit, Humour, and Ridicule. To 
whichfoever of thefc the peculiar bent of -a per- 
fon's Tafte lies, from fome writer or other, he 
has it always in his power to receive the grati- 
fication of it. - ^ 


Now this high power which eloqu^nte and 

poetry poflefs, of fupplying Tafte and Imagi-' 

nation with fuch a wide circle of plbstfurcs, 

they derive altogether from their having a 

greater capacity of Imitation and Defcription 

than is poffcflcd by any other art. Of all i;hct 

means which human ingenuity has contrived 

for recalling the images of real objefts, and 

awakening, by reprefentation, fimilar , cmo^ 

tions to thqfe which arc raifcd by the original^ 

none is fo full and extenfive as that which is 

executed by words and writing. Through 

the affiftance of this happy invention, there in 

nothing, either in the natural or moral world, 

but what cafi be reprefentcd and fet before thti 

mind, in CQlours very ttrong and lively!; 

Hence it is ufual among critical writers,, td 

fpcak of Difcourfe as the chief of all the imi-' 

t^iive or mimetic arts j they compare it with 

I ^ painting 


* I 

LfEcCTi p^Ming and with fculpture, and in many re- 
fpeftfi prefer it juftly before them, x 


;This ftyle was firft introduced by Ariftode 
in ^ his Poetics i and fince his time^ I^as ac* 
quired a general currency among modern au- 
thors. But, as it is of confequence to intro- 
duce as much precifion as pofiible in(p Critical 
language^ I mull obferve^ that this mann(^ of 
Ipeaking is not accurate. Neither difcottrfe 
in general, nor poetry in particular, can be 
called altogether imitative arts. We muft 
difting\)ifli betwixt Imitation and Defcription> 
which are ideas that fliould not be con- 
founded. Imitation is performed by means 
^f fome^hat that has a natural likenels and 
vefenihlance to the thing imitated, and of con- 
feqju^hce is underftood by all i fuch are fta- 
tuejs and piAures. Defcription, again, is 
the raifing in the mind the conception of 
an object by means of fome arbitrary or in- 
iljljituted fymbols, underftood only by thofe 
who agree in the inftitution of them ; fuch 
are words and writing. Words have no 
natural refemblance to the ideas or objefts 
inrhich they are employed to fignify ^ but a 
ftatue. or a pidture has a natural likenefs to 
tW. original. And therefore Imitation and 
Iteffription differ confiderably in their nature 
fronri each other. 



As far, indeed, as a poet introduces into his l e c t, 
work perfons a&ually fpeakingj and, by the 
words which he puts into their mouths, repre* 
fcnts the difcourfe which they might be fup- 
pofed to hold i (o far his art may more accu- 
rately be called Imitative : and this is the cafe 
in all dramatic compofition. But in Narra- 
tive or Defcriptive works, it can with no pro- 
priety be called fo. Who, for inftance, would 
call Virgil's Defcription of a tempcft, in the 
firft ^neid, an Imitation of a ftorm ? If we 
heard of the Imitation of a battle, we might 
naturally think of fome mock fight, or repre- 
ientation of a battle on the ftage, but would 
never apprehend, that it meant one of Homer's 
Defcriptions in the Iliad. I admit, at the 
fame time, that Imitation and Defcription 
agree in their principal effed, of recalling, by 
external figns, the ideas of things which we do 
not fee. But though in this they coincide, yet 
it fhould not be forgotten, that the terms 
themfelves are not fynonynrious ; that they im- 
port dfflferent means of effefting the fami 
end ; and 5f courfe make different impreflibns 

on the mind *♦ 


• * Thf^hy in tkie isxetution of particular parts^ Poetry 
JA QBfKiuil^* Defcnpltve radi^itliah Iiiiit&tive4 yet tkere is 
a qiia)ifitfd;feAfe in: which Poetty, in the gbnefa]^ mzf tie 
terjylflt; to Jiditfttive act. >The Aibjt^ of tiie poet (as J>r* 
Gerard has fhown in the App.e«<iix to his Eflay onTai^)'is 
intended to be ah Imitation, not of things really exiAing, 

I 4 but 


Whether wc confidcr Poetry in particular, 
and Difcourfe in general, as Imitative or Pe- 
fcriptive ; it is evident, that their whole power 
in recalling the impreffions of real objeflsji is 
derived from the fignifigancy of words. As 

but of the courfe of nature ; that is, a feigned reprefentation 
of fuch events, or fuch fcenes, as though they never had a 
being, yet might have exifted ; and which, therefore, by 
their probability, bear a refemblance to nature. It was 
probably, in this fenfe, that Ariftotle termed Poetry a 
mimetic art. How far either the Imitation or the De(crip- 
tion which Poetry employs, is fuperior to the imitative 
powers of Painting and MoAc, is well ihown by Mr. Harris, 
in his Treatifc on Mu(ic, Painting, and Poetry. . The chief 
advantage which Poetry, or Difcourfe in general, enjoys, is, 
that whereas, by the nature of his art, the Painter is con- 
fined to the reprefentation of a fingle moment, Writing and 
Difcourfe can trace a tranfa^ion through its whole progrefs. 
That moment, indeed, which the Painter pitches upon for 
the fubje^i of his pi^ure, he may be faid to exhibit ivith 
more advantage than the Ppet or the Orator; inafmuch ^ 
he fets before us, in one view, all the ipinute concurrent 
circumflances of the event which* happen in one individual 
point of time, as they appear in nature ; while Difcourfe is 
obliged to exhibit them in fucceHion, and by means of a de- 
tail, which is in danger of becoming tedious, i^ order to be 
clear ; or if not tedipus, is in danger of being obic^re. 
But to that point of time which he has chofen, the Painter 
being entirely confined, he cannot exhibit various ftages of 
the fame adlion or event ; and he is fnbjed to this farther 
defe^f that he can only exhibit objedls as they appear to 
the eye, and can very imperledly delineate characters and 
/entiments, which are the nobleil fubje^tB of Imiiatk)n ' or 
Defcription. The power of reprefen ting theie with full ad- 
vantage, gives a high fupenority to Difcourfe and Writing 
above all other imitative arts. 



their excellency flows altogether from this l e c t. 
iburce, we mufl-, in order to make way for 
further enquiries, begin at this fountain head. 
I (hall^ therefore, in the next Lcfture, enter 
upon the confideration of Language : of the 
origin, the progrefs, and conftruftion of which, 
I purpofe to treat at fbmic length. 


! t 

^^^^T^^^^'"?^^"'^'^*^''*****'^*''*^*'"^^ ^ 




HAVING finifhcd my obfcrvations on 
the Pleafurcs of Tafte, which were 
meant to be introduftory to the principal fub- 
jc£t of thefe Ledures, I now begin to treat of 
Language ; which is the foundation of the 
whole power of eloquence. This will lead to 
a confiderable difcuflion; and there are few 
fubjeds belonging to polite literature, which 
more merit fuch a difcuflion. I fhall firft give 
a Hiftory of the Rife and Progrefs of Language 
in feyeral particulars, from its early to its more 
advanced periods j which (hall be followed by 
a fimilar Hiftory of the Rife and Progrefs of 
Writing, I fhall next give fome account of 
the Conftruftion of Language, or the Prin- 
ciples of Univerfal Grammar; and (hall, laftly, 
apply thefe obfervations more particularly to 

the Englifli Tongue *, 


* See Dr. Adam Smith's DlHertation on the Formation 
of Languages. — Trcaiifc of the Origin and Progrefs of 



Language, in general, fignifies the expref- l e c t. 
fion of our ideas by certain articulate founds, ^^' 
which are ufed as the figns of thofe ideas. By 
articulate founds, are meant thofe modula- 
tions of fimple voice, or of found erpitted from 
the thorax, which are formed by means of the 
mouth and its fcveral organs, the teeth, the 
tongue, the lips, and the palate. How far there 
is any natural connexion between the ideas of 
the mind and the founds emitted, will appear 
from what I am afterwards to offer. But as the 
natural connexion can, upon any fyftem, af- 
feft only a fmall part of the fabric of Lan- 
guage; the connexion between words and 
ideas may, in general, be confidered as arbi- 
trary and conventional, owing to the agree- 
ment of men among thcmfelvesj the clear 
proof of which is, that different nations have 
different Languages, or a difFerpht fet of arti- 
culate founds, which they have chofen for 
communicating their ideas. 

Language, in 3 vols,— Harris's Hermes, or a Philoibphi* 
cal Enquiry concerning Language and Univerial Gram- 
mar.— Eflai fur I'Origine des Connoifrance.8 Humaines, 
par L'Abbe Condillac— Principes de Grammaire, par 
Marfais.— Gram m aire Generate Sc Raifonnee. — Traite de 
la Formation Mechanique des Langoes, par le Preiident de 
Brofles.— *>Difcours for I'lnegalite parmi les Hommes,* . par 
Rou/Ieao. — Grammaire Generale, par Beauzee. — Principes 
de laTraduflion^ par Batteux.o-^Warburton's Divine Lega* 
tion of Mofev^ vol. iii.-»SanAii Minerva, cum notis Peri- 
zonii. — Les Vrais Principes de la Langue Fran^oife^ par 
J^Abbc Girard. 





This artifici^ method of communicating 
thought, we now behold carried to the highcft 
pcrfeftion, language is become a vehicle by 
which the rrioft d^lic^-te and refined emotions 
of one mind caa be tranfmitted, or, if we 
may fo fpeak, transfufed into another. Not 
only are nacpes given to all objefts around us, 
by which means an eafy and fpeedy intercourfc 
js carried on for providing the neceffaries of 
life, but air the relations and difFerenccs among 
thefe objefts are minutely marked, the invi- 
fible fenciments of the mind are defcribed, the 
moft abftraft notions and conceptions are ren- 
dered intelligible 5 and all the ideas which 
fciencc can difcover, or imstgination crea^te, 
are known by their proper names. Nay, 
Language has been carried fo far, as to be 
made an inftrument of the mpft refined luxury. 
Not refling in mere perfpicuity, we r^cjuire 
OKaament alfoi not fatisfied with having the 
conceptions of others made known to us, we 
make a farther demand, to have them fo 
decked and adorned as to entertain our fancy; 
and this demand, it is found very pofflbk to 
gratify. In this ftate we now find Language. 
In this ftate, it has been found amqng many 
nations for fome tboufand years. The objeft 
is become familiar ; and, like the expanfe of 
the firmament, and other great objedts, which 
we are aqcuftopaed to behold, we behold it 
without wonder. 



oplangOage. ,2$ 

Bi>t cirry your thoughts back to the firft t e c t. 
dawn of Language among men. Refledt upon 
the feeble beginnings from which it muft have 
arifert, and upon the many and great obftacles 
which it muft have encountered in its pro^ 
grcfs ; and you will find reafon for the highett 
aftoniftiment, on viewing the height which it 
has now attained. We admire feveral of the 
inventions of art ; we plume ourfelves on fomc 
difcoveries which have been mad« in latter 
ages, ferving to advance knowledge, and to 
render life comfortable ; we fpeak of them as 
the boaft of human reafon. But certainly no 
invention is entitled to any fuch degree of ad- 
miration as that of Language ; which, too, 
muft have been the prod u6t of the fitft and 
rudeft ages, if indeed it can be confidered as 
a human invention at all. 

Think of the cifcumftahces of mankind 
When Languages began to be formed. They 
were a wandering fcattered race ; no fociety 
among them except families; ^nd the famil/ 
fociety too very imperfeft, as their method of 
living by hunting or pafturage muft have fc- 
jparated them frequently from one anothcj*; 
In this.fituatiotti when fo much divided, and 
their intcrcourfc fo rare, how tould any one 
let of founds, or words, be generally agreed 
on as the figns of their ideas ? Supposing that 
» few, whom chance or neceffity threw to* 
8 Bother, 


LECT. gcthcr, agreed by fomc means upon certaia 
figns, yet by what authority could thefc be 
propagated among other tribes or families, fo 
as to fpread and grow up into a Language ? 
One would think^ that, in order to any« 
guage fixing and extending itfelf, nnenmufthave 
been previoufly gathered together in oonfider- 
able numbers s Society mull have been al« 
ready far advanced -, and yet, on the other 
hand, there feems to have been an abfolute 
neceflity for Speech, previous to the formation 
of Society, For, by what bond could any 
multitude of men be kept together, or be made 
to join in the profecution of any common in« 
tereft, until once, by the intervention of Speech, 
they could communicate their wants and inten- 
tiohs to one another ? So that, either how So* 
ciety could form itfelf, previoufly to Lan- 
guage, or how words could rife into a Language 
previoufly to Society formed, feem to be points 
attended with equal difficulty. And when we 
confider farther, that curious analogy which pre* 
vails in the qonftruftion of almoft all Lan- 
guages, and that deep and fubtile logic on which 
they are founded, difficulties increafe fo much 
upon us, on all hands, that there feems to be 
no fmall reafon for referring the firft origin of 
all Language to Divine teaching or infpiration. 

But fuppofing Language to have a Divine 

original^ we cannot^ however^ fuppofe, that 

9 a perfcft 


a pcrfefl; fyftcm of it was all at once given to, ^ ^^ '*'• 
man. It is much more natural to thinks that 
God taught our flrft parents only fuch Lan- 
guage as fuited their prefent occafions ; leav* 
ing chem^ as he 4id in other things^ to en* 
large and improve it as their future neceffities 
Ihould require^ Confequcntly, thofe firfl: ru- 
dimenta of Speech muft have been poor and 
narrow ; and we are at full liberty to enquire 
in what manner^ and by what fteps^ Language 
advanced to the date in which we now find it. 
The hjftory which I am to give of this pro- 
grefs^ will fuggeft feveral things, both curious 
in themfelvesy and ufeful in our future difqui* 

If wc ihould fuppofe a period before any 
words were invented or known, it is clear, 
that men could have no other method of com- 
municating to others what they felt, than by 
the cries of paffion, accompanied with fuch 
motions and geftures as were farther exprefiive 
of paffion. For thefe are the only figns which 
nature teaches all men, and which are under^ 
ftood by all. One who faw another going 
into fome place where he himfelf had been 
frightened, or expofed to danger, and who 
fought to warn his neighbour of the danger, 
could contrive no other way of doing fo, than 
by uttering thofe cries, and making thofe 
gefkures, which are the figns of fear : juft as 



I E c t, tivo men, at this day, would endeavour to 
make thcmfclves be underftood by each other/ 
who ftiould be thrown together on a defolate 
jfland, ignorant of each other's Language* 
ThDle exctamlations, therefore, which by 
C^rammarians are called Interje£bions, uttered 
in a ilrong and pafiionate manner, were, be- 
yond doubt, the firft elements or beginnings 
of Speech* 

. Wh^j^ more enlarged Cortimiinidatioh be- 
came neceffaryj and names began to be af* 
igned to objefts, iri what manner can we fup-» 
pofe men to have proceeded in this affigna^ 
tion of names, or invention of words ? Un- 
doubtedly, by imitating, as much as they 
couldj the naturc^ of the obje£k which they 
named, by the found of the name which they 
gave to it* As a Painter, who would repre- 
itrnt grafs> muft employ a green colour s fo^ 
in the beginnings of Language, one giving a 
name to any thing harih or boiilerous> would 
of courfc employ a harfli or boifterous found* 
He coiUd not do otherwife, if he meant to 
excite in the hearer the idea of that thing 
which he fought to name. To fuppofe words 
invented^ or names given, to things, in a 
manner purely arbitrary, without any. ground 
or reafon, is to fuppofe an efFcfk without a 
caufe. There muft have always been fome 
motive which led to the aflignation of one 



name rather than another ; and we can coh'« 
ccivc no motive which would more generally 
operate upon men in their firft efforts towards 
Language, than a deiire to paint, by Speech, 
the objeds which they named>. in a manner 
more or lefs complete, according as the vocal 
organs had it in their power to cffcdt this 

Wherever objefts were to be named, in 
which found> noife, or motion were concerned, 
the imitation by words was abundantly ob- 
vious. Nothing was more natural, than to 
imitate, by the found of the voice, the quality 
of the founder noife which any external objcft 
made; and to form its name accordingly. 
Thus,, in all Languages, we find a multitude 
of words that are evidently conftrufted upon 
this principle. A certain bird is termed the 
Cuckoo, from the found which it emits. 
When one fort of wind is faid to wbijile^ and 
another to roar i when a ferpent is faid to bi/s i 
a 8y to buz^ and falling timber to craft) % 
when a dream is faid to flow^ and hail to rattbi 
the analogy between the word and the thing 
fignified is plainly difcernible. 

In the names of obje£bs which addrefs the 
fight only, where neither noife nor motion are 
concerned, and ftill more in the terms appro- 
priated to moral ideas, this analogy appears to 

Vol. I. K fail. 


falK Many learned men, however, have bccri 
of opinion, that though, in fiKrh cafes, it be<* 
tomes more obfcure, yet it is not altogether 
ioft; but that throughout the radical words 
of all Languages, there may be traced fome 
degree of correfpondence with the obje<Sk fig- 
nifted. With regard to moral and intelleftuaC 
ideas, they remark, that, in every Language^ 
the terms fignifkant of them, are derived from 
the names of fenfible objefts to which they 
are conceived to be analogous ;. and with re- 
~"gard to fenfihle objefts pertaining rncrcly to 
fight, they remark, that their moft di(lingui(h- 
ing qualities have certain radical founds ap- 
propriated to the expreflion of them> in a great 
Variety of Languages. Stability, for inftance, 
fluidity, hoUowncfs, fmoothnefs, gentlehefs„ 
violence, &c, they imagine to be painted by 
the found of certain letters of fyllables, 
which have fome relation to thofe different 
ftates of vifible objefts, on account of an ob- 
fcure refemblance which the organs of voice 
are capable of alTuming to fuch external qua-- 
lities. By this natural mechanifm, they ima- 
gine all Languages to have been at firift con- 
ftrufted, and the roots of their capital words 
formed *• 


* The Attchor, who h«s carried his rpecolatioa» on this 
fubjefl the fartheft; is the Prefident Des Brofles, in his 
** Traite 4c la Formation Mcchaiii<iue des Langues.** 






As fiir fts this fyftcm U founded in truths t E^c t. 
Language appears to be not altogether arbi-» 



Some of the radical letters or fyllables which he fappofcs 
to carry this cxpreffive power in moil known Languages 
are, St, to fignify ftability or reft ; Fl, to denote fluency | 
Ci, a gentle defcent; R, what relates to rapid motion { 
C) to cavity, or koilowDefs, &c. A century before his 
time, J)r. Wallis, in his Grammar of the Eogliih Lan- 
guage, had taken notice of thefe fignificant roots, and re- 
prefefited it as a peculiar excellency of our Tongue, that, 
faeyoad all others, it expreffed the nature of the objieds 
which it names, by employing founds fiiarper, ibfcer, 
Weaker, ftronger, 4nore obfcure, or more ftridulous, ac- 
cording as the idea which is to be fuggefted requires. Ht 
gives various examples. Thus ; words formed upon St, 
always denote firmnefs and ftrength, analogous to the Latin 
Jf4 ; as, fland, ftay, ftafT, flop, flout, fteady, flake, flamp, 
flailion, flately, &c. Words beginning with Str, intimate 
violent force, and energy, analogous to the Oreek trr^qivvjui ; 
as, ifa-ive, ftrength, flrike, ftripe, flreis> flruggle, ftride, 
ftretch, flrip, Sec. Thr, implies forcible motion ; as, 
threw, throb, thrufl, through, threaten, thraldom. Wr« 
ebliquity or diilortion; as, wry, wreH, wreath, wrefllc, 
wring, wrong, wrangle, wrath, wrack, &c. Sw, filent 
agitation, or lateral motion ; as, fway, fwing, fwcrve, 
fweep, fwim. SI, a gentle fall or lefs obfervable motion ; 
as. Aide, flip, fly, flit, flow, flack, fling. Sp, diffipation or 
expanfion ; as, fpnead, fprout, fprinkle, fplit, fpill, Tpring. 
Terminations in Afh, indicate fomething afting nimbly 
and Iharply; as, crafh, gafti, rafli, flafli,']afli, flifli. Ter- 
minations in Ufh, fomething a^ing more obtufely and 
dolfy ; as, crufli, brufh, hufli, gufli, blafh. The learned 
Aotlior prodttces a great many more examples of the fame 
kind, which feem to leave no doubt, that the analogies of 
fovnd have had Tome influence on the formation of words-. 
At the fame time, in all fpeculations of this kind, there is 
€o mach room for fancy to operate, that they ought to be 
4idopced witli nucb caution in forming any general theory. 

K 2 trary 


crary in its origin. Among the antient Stoic 
and Platonic Philofophers^ it was a queftion 
much agitated, " Utrum nomina rcrum fint 
" natura, an impofitionc ?" fvcii ^ ^nr!; by which 
they meant. Whether words were merely con- 
ventional fymbols j of the rife of which no 
account could be given, except the pleafurc 
of the firft inventors of Language ? or. Whe- 
ther there was fome principle in nature that 
led to the aflignation of particular names to 
particular objefts ? and thofe of the Platonic 
fchool favoured the latter opinion ^. 

This principle, however, of a natural rela- 
tion between words and obje£ts> can only be 

* Vid. Plat, in Cratylo. *^ Nomina Tcrbaquc rod po- 
^* iita fortuitOy Ted quadam vi & ratione naturae fkda eSk, 
** P. Nigidius in Grammaticis Commencariis docet; reA 
** fane in phiiofophiz djflertationibus celebrem. In earn 
'* rem mi>lu argumenta dicit, cur videri poflint verba efle 
** naturalia, magis quam arbitraria. Fos^ inquit, cam di- 
** cimasy. motu quodam oris conveniente, cum iplius verbi 
** demonftratione ucimur» Be labias fenfim primores emove* 
** mus, ac fpiritum atque animam porro verfttm, & ad eos 
** quibas confermocinamar intendimus. At contra cuffl 
** dicimus ^(p/, neqae profufo intentoque fiatu vodsi ne- 
'* que projedlis labiispronunciamas ; fed et fpirkum etia- 
** bias quafi intra no/met ipfos coercemus. Hoc fit idem 
'* et in eo quod dicimus, /«, & ig^^ 8c mibi^ $c tibL Nam 
'*' ficuti cum adnuimus & abnuimus, mot us quodam iUo 
*' vel capitis, J^el oculoram, a natura rei quam iigni&cat, 
"' non abhorret, ita in his vocibus quafi geflus quidam oris 
" & fpirltus naturalis eH. Eadem ratio eft in Grsecis quo- 
** que vocibus quam tHk in noftris animadvertimus." 

A. GiLLi vs^ NoA. Atticse, lib. x. cap. 4- 

3 applied 


applied to Language in its moft fimple and 
primitive ftatc. Though, in every Tonguei 
fome remains of it^ as I have (hown above, can 
be traced, it were utterly in vain to fearch for. 
it throughout the whole conftru£tion of any 
modern Language. As the multitude of 
terms increafe in every nation, and the im- 
menfe field of Language is filled up, words, 
by a thoufand fanciful and irregular methods 
of derivation and compofition, come to deviate 
widely from the primitive charafter of their 
roots, and to lofe all analogy or refemblance 
in found to the things fignified. In this (late 
we now find Language. Words, as we now 
employ them, taken in the general, may be 
confidered as fymbols, not as imitations i as 
arbitrary, or inftituted, not natural figns Df 
ideas. But there can be no doubt, I think, 
that Language, the nearer we remount to its 
rife among men, will be found to partake 
more of a natural expreflion. As it could be 
originally formed on nothing but imitation, 
it would, in its primitive ftate, be more pic- 
turcfque ; much more barren indeed, and nar- 
row in the circle of its terms, than nowj but 
*s far as it went, more expreflive by (bund 
of the thing fignified. This, then, may be 
aflumed as one charafter of the firft ftate, or 
beginnings, of Language, amoDJg every fa- 
vage tribe. 



ir E c T. A McoND charaAer of Language^ in its 
early ftate, is drawn from the manner in 
whkh words were at firft pronounced^ or ut- 
tered, by men. Interjc<ftions, I (howed, or 
paffionate exclamations, w^rethe firft elements 
of fpeech. Men laboured to communicate 
their feelings to one another, by thofe expref- 
five cries and geftures which n ature taught 
them. After words, or names of objefts, be- 
gan to be invented, this mode of fpeaking, 
by natural (igns, could not be all at once dif- 
ufed* For Language, in its infancy, muft 
have been extremely barren; and there cer- 
tainly was a period, among all rude nations, 
when converlation was carried on by a very 
few words, intermixed with many exclama- 
tions and earneft geftures* The fmall ftock 
of words which men as yet pofii^fledj rendered 
thefe helps abfolutely neceffary for explaming 
their conceptions 5 and rude, uncultivated 
men, not having always at hand even the 
few wordg which they knew, would naturally 
labour to make themfelves underilood, by 
varying their tones of voice, and ajccompany- 
ing their tones with the moil iignificant gefti- 
culations they could make. At this day, 
when perfons attempt to fpcak in any Lan- 
guage which they pofiefs imperfectly, they 
have recourfe to all thefe fuppleracntal me- 
thods,* in order to ren.der themfelves more in-* 
telligible. The plan too, according to which 

I have 



I have fliOwn^ that Language was originally ^ ^J^ t, 
caa&rpdedy upon refcnnblanGe or analogy, as 
far as was pofllbIe» to the thing fignified, 
would naturally lead men to utter their words 
with more emphafis and force, as long as 
Language was a ibrt of painting by means of 
found* For all thofe reafons this may be af-^ 
iumed as a principle, that the pronunciation 
of the earlieft Languages was accompanied 
with more gefticulation, and with more and 
greater inflexions of voice, than what we now 
ufe; there was more aftlon in it ; and it was 
more upon a crying or finging tone. 


To this manner of fpeaking, necefllty fir(t 
gave rife. But we muft obferv'e, that, after 
this neceffity had, in a great meafure, ceafed, 
by Language becoming, in procefs of time, 
more extenjRve and copious, the antient man- 
ner of Speech ftill fubfifted among many na-^ 
tions; and what had arifen from ^ecefiity, 
continued to be ufed fororfiament. Where- 
ever there was much fire and vivacity in the 
genius of nations, they were natur^illy in- 
clined to a mode of convcrfation which grati- 
fied the imagination fo much ; for, an imagi- 
nation which is warm, is always prone to throw 
both a great deal of a£tion, and a variety of 
tones, into difcourfe. Upon this principle, 
Dr. Warburton accounts for fo much fpeak- 
ing by aftion, as we find among the Old Tcfta- 

K 4 ment 


mcnt Prophets J as when Jeremiah breaks the 
potter's veffel, in fight of the people j throws 
a book into the Euphrates ; puts on bonds 
and yokes; and carries out his houfehold 
ftufF; all which^ he imagines, might be fig* 
nificant modes of exprcffion. Very natural in 
thofc ages, when men were accuftomed to ex- 
plain themfelves (6 much by afkions and gef- 
tures. In like manner, among the Northern 
American tribes, certain motions and aftions 
were found to be much ufed as explanatory of 
their meaning, on all their great occafions of 
intercourfe with each other; and by the belts 
and firings of wampum, which they gave 
and received, they were accuftomed to de- 
clare their meaning, as much as by their dif- 

With regard to inflexions of voice, thefe 
are fo natural, thatj to fome nations, it has ap- 
peared eafier to exprefs different ideas, by 
varying the tone with which they pronounced 
the fame word, than to contrive* words for all 
their ideas. This .is the praftice of the Chi- 
nefe in particular. The number of words in 
their Language is faid not to be great ; but^ 
in fpeaking, they vary each of their words on 
no lefs than five different tones, by which 
they make the fame word fignify five different 
things. This mufl give a great appearance of 
mufic or finging to their Speech. For thofc 



inflexions of voice which, in the infancy of l b c t. 

Language, were no more than harfh or diflbnanc 

cries, muft^ as Language gradually polilhes, 

pafs into more fmooth and mufical founds: 

and hence is formed, what we call, the Profody 

of a Language. " 

It is remarkable, and defefves attention, 
that, both in the Greek and Roman Lan* 
guages, this mufical and gefliculating pro-^ 
nunciation was retained in a very iiigh degree. 
Without having attended to this, we (liall be 
at a lofs in underftanding feveral palfages of 
the Claffics, which relate to the public fpeak-> 
ing, and the theatrical entertainments, of the 
Anticnts. It appears, from many circum- 
stances, that the profody both of the Greeks 
and Romans, was carried much farther than 
ours; or that they fpoke with more, and 
ftronger, inflexions of voice than we ufe. The 
quantity of their fyllables was much more 
fixed than in any of the modern Languages^ 
and rendered much more fenfible to the ear in 
pronouncing them. Befides quantities, or the 
difference of (hort and long, accents were 
placed upon moft of their fyllables, the acute, 
grave, and circumflex; the ufe of which ac^ 
cents we have now entirely lofl:, but which, 
we know, determined the fpeaker's voice to 
rife or fall. Our modern pronunciation mufl: 
have appeared to them a lifelefs monotony. 



The declamation of their orators, and thcpro* 
ouoctation of their aftors upon the ftage, ap- 
proached to the nature of a recitative in mufic ) 
was capable of being marked in notes, and 
fupported with inftrunients; as feveral learned 
men have fully proved. And if this was the 
cafe, as they have ihown, ameng the Romans, 
the Greeks, it is well known, were ftiJl a more 
mufical people than the Romans, and carried 
their attention to tone and pronunciation 
much farther in every public exhibition. 
Ariftotle, in his Poetics, confiders the mufic 
of Tragedy as one of its chief and moil eflen^ 
(ial parts. 

Th£ cafe was parallel with regard to gef* 
tures : for ftrong tones, and animated ^f- 
tures, we may obferve, always go tjogether. 
A<5lion is treated of by all the antient critics, 
as the chief quality in every public ipcakcr. 
The a&ion, both of the orators and the 
players in Greece and Rome, was far more 
vehement than what we are accuftomed to^ 
Rofcius would have feemed a madniiaii to us. 
Gcfture was of fiwrh confequence upon the 
antient ftage, that there is reafon for believ^ 
ifig, that, on fome occaflons, the fpeaking and 
the afting part were divided, which, accord- 
ing to our ideas, would form a ftrange exhibi* 
tion i one player fpoke the words in the proper 
tones, while another performed the corrcfp6nd- 



ing motioQS and geftures.< We Icarh from l e c t. 
Cicero^ that it was a conteil between him and 
Roicius, whether he could exprefs a fentiment 
in a greater variety of phrafes> or Rofcius in a 
greater variety of intelligible fignificant gcf- 
tures. At laft, geilure came to engrofs the 
ftage wholly j for, under the reigns of Au- 
guftus and Tiberius, the favourite entertain*' 
ment of the Public was the pantomime, which 
was carried on entirely by mute gefticulation. 
The people were moved, and wept at it, as 
much as at tragedies ; and the paifion for it 
became fo ftrong, that laws were obliged to' 
be made, for rcftraining the Senators from 
ftudying the pantomime art. Now, though 
in declamations and theatrical exhibitions, 
both tone and gcfture were, doubtlcfs, carried 
much farther than in common difcourfej yet 
public fpeaking, of any kind, muft, in every 
couktry, bear fome proportion to the manner 
that is ufed in converfation ; and fuch public 
entertainments as I have now mentioned, could 
never have been reliflied by a nation, whofc 
tones and geftures, in difcourfe, were as Ian-* 
guid as ours. 

When the Barbarians fpread themfelvcs 
over the Roman Empire, thefe more phleg- 
matic nations did not retain the accents, the 
tones and geftures, which neccflity at firft in- 
tiroduced, and cuftom and fancy afterwards fo 



long fupported, in the Greek and Ronian 
Languages. As the Latin Tongue was loft in 
their idioms, fo the charafter.of fpecch and 
pronunciation began to be changed throughout 
Europe. Nothing of. the fame attention was 
|>aid to the mufic of Language, or to the pomp 
of declamation, and theatrical aftion. Both 
converfation and public fpeaking became 
more (imple and plain, fuch as we now find 
it ; without that enthuliaftic mixture of tones 
and geftures, which diftinguifhed the antient 
nations* At the reftoration of letters, the 
genius of Language was fo much altered, and 
the manners of the people had become fo dif- 
ferent, that it was no eafy matter to underftand 
what the Antients had faid, concerning their 
declamations and public fpe£bacles. Our 
plain manner of fpeaking, in thefe northern 
countries, cxpreffes the paffions with fufficient 
energy, to move thofe who are not accuftomed 
to any more vehement manner. But, un- 
doubtedly, more varied tones, and more ani- 
mated motions, carry a natural expreflion of 
warmer feelings. Accordingly, in different 
modern Languages, the profody of Speech 
partakes more of mufic, in proportion to the 
livelinefs and fenfibility of the people. A 
Frenchman both varies his accents, and geP* 
ticulates while he fpeaks, much more than an 
Englifhman. An Italian, a great deal more 
than either. Mufical pronunciation and ex- 



prcffive gefture arc, to this day, the diftiadlon t b c t* 
of Italy. 

From the pronunciation of Language, let 
us proceed,, in the third place, to coniider the 
Style of Language in its mod: early date, and 
its progreis in this refpedt alfo. As the manner 
in which men at firft uttered their words, and 
maintained converfation, was ftrong and ex« 
preffive, enforcing their imperfectly exprefled 
ideas by cries and geftures 4 fo the Language 
which they ufed, could be no other than full 
of figures and metaphors, not correct indeed, 
but forcible and pifturefque. 

W£ are apt, upon a fuperficial view, to 
imagine, that thofc modes of expreffion which 
are called Figures of Speech, are among the 
chief refinenients of Speech, not invented till 
after Language had advanced to its later pe- 
riods, and mankind were brought intq a po- 
liflied (tate $ and that, then, they were de- 
vifed by Orators and Rhetoricians. The con* 
trary of this is the truth. Mankind never 
employed fo many Figures of Speech, as when 
they had hardly any words for exprefllng their 


Fo]^} firft, the want of proper names for 
every obje£):, ;obliged^ them to ufe one name 
for many ; and^ of courfe, to exprefs them* 



felves by comparifons, met^hors, allufions, 
and all thofe fubftituted forms of Speech which 
render Language figurative. Next, as the 
objeffcs with which they were mptt convcrfant, 
were the fenfible, niaterial obgciSb around 
them, names would be given to thofe objects 
long before words were invented for fignifying 
the difpoiitions of the mind, or any fort of 
moral and intellectual ideas; Hence, the^ 
early Language of men being entirely made 
up of words dcfcriptive of feniible objefts, it 
became, of necefllty, extremely metaphorical. 
For, to lignify any deiire or paflion, or any aft 
or feeling of the mind, they had no precife 
expreilioh which was appropriated to that pur-^ 
pole, but were under a neccflity of painting 
the emotion, or paflion, which they felt, by 
allufion to thofe fenfible objects tvhich had 
mofl: relation to it, and whi^h could render it^ 
in fome fort, vifible to others. 

• But it was not heceflity alone, that gave 
-fife to this figured ftyle. 'Other circum- 
ftancei alfo, at the commencement of Lan- 
guage, contributed to it. In the infancy of 
all focieties, men are much under the domi- 
nion of imagination and paflion. They live 
fcattered and difperfed -, they are unacquainted 
with the courfe of things; they are, every 
day, meeting with new and ftr^nge objeftt« 
Fear and fin^prife, wonder and aftonifiiment, 
a are 


are their tnoft frequent paflions. Their Lan* l* e c t* 
guage will neceffarily partake of this charafter 
of their minds. They will be prone to exag- 
geration and hyperbole. They will be giveti 
to dcfcribe every thing with the ftrongeft co- 
lours, and moft vehement expreffions ; infi- 
nitely niore than men living in the advanced 
and cultivated periods of Society, when their 
imagination is more chaftened, their paflions 
are more tamed, and a wider experience has 
rendered the objedts of life more familiar to 
them. Even the manner in which I before 
(howed that the firft tribes of men uttered 
their words, would have confiderable influence 
on their ftyle. Wherever ftrong exclama* 
tions, tones, and geflrures, enter much into 
converfation, the imagination is always more 
exercifed ; a greater cflbrt of fancy and pafllon 
is excited, Confequently, the fancy, kept 
awake, and rendered more fprightly by this 
mode of utterance, operates upon ftyle, and 
enlivens it more» 

These reafonings arc confirmed by un- 
doubted fadts. The ftyle of all the moft early 
Languages, among nations who are in the firft 
and rude periods of Society, is found, without 
exception, to be full of figures j hyperbolical 
and pifturefque in a high degree. We have a, 
ftriking inftance of this in the American Lan« 
guages, which are known> by the moft authen* 



!• ^c T. tic accounts, to be figurative to excefi. The 
Iroquois and Illinois carry on their treaties 
and public tranfa&ions with bolder metaphors, 
and greater pomp of (lyle, than we ufe in our 
poetical produAions *. 

Another remarjcable inftancc is, the ftylc 
of the Old Teftament, which is carried on by 

* Thas, to give an inftance of the iingular Style of thefe 
nltionSy the Five Nations of Canada, when entering on a 
treaty of peace with us, expreiled themfelves by their 
Chiefs, in the following Langaage : ** We are happy in 
** having, buried under ground the red axe, that has fo 
*' often been dyed with the blood of our brethren. Now, 
*' in this forty we inter the axe, and plant the tree of Peace. 
We plant a tree, whofe top will reach the Sun ; and its 
branches Tpread abroad, fo that it (hall be feen afar off, 
<< May its growth never be ftifled and choked ; but may it 
" ihade both your country-and ours with its leaves ! Let 
** us make faft its. roots, and extend them to the utmoft of 
your colonies. If the French (hould come to (hake this 
tree, we would know it by the motion of its roots reach- 
** ing into our country. M^y the Great Spirit allow us to 
** reft in tranquillity upon our matts, and never again dig 
^' up the axe to cut down the tree of Peace ! Let the earth 
'' be trod hard over it, - where it lies buried. Let a ftrodg 
** ftream run under the pit» to wafli the evil away out of 
*' our fight and remembrance. — The £re that had long 
<* burned in Albany is ex^nguiflied. The bloody bed is 
'* waflied clean, and the tears are wiped from our eyes« 
«' We now renew the covenant chain of friendfhip. Let 
*' it be kept bright and clean as filver, and not fuffered to 
<* contract any rull. Let not any one pull away his arm 
** from it." Thefe pa£ages are extraded from Cadwalla- 
der Colden's Hiftory of the Five Indian Nations ; where it' 
appears, from the authentic documents he produces, that 
fuch is their genuine ftyle. 




conftant dlufions to fenfible objcfts. Iniquity, 
or guilt, is cxprcffcd by " a fpotted garment}" 
mifery, by *"f drinking the cup of aftonilh-* 
•* nfjcnti" vain purfuits, by " feeding on 
** alhcs ;" a finful life, by " a crooked pathi" 
profpcrity, by " the candle of the Lord fhin- 
'^ rng on our headj" and the like, in innu- 
merable inftances. Hence, we have been ac- 
cuftomed to call this fort of flyle the Oriental 
Style; as fancying it to be peculiar to the na- 
tions of the Eaft : whereas, from the Ameri- 
can Style, and from many other inftances, it 
plainly appears not to have been peculiar to 
any one region or climate 5 but to have been 
common to all nations, in certain periods of 
Society and Language. 

Hewce, we may receive fome light concern- 
ing that feeming paradox, that Poetry is more 
antient than Profe. I (hall have occafion to 
difcufs this point fully hereafter, when I come 
to treat of the Nature and Origin of Poetry. 
At prcfcnt, it is fufEcicnt to obferve, that, from 
what has been faid it plainly appears, that the 
ftyle of all Language muft have been original- 
ly poetical -, ftrongly tinftured with that cn- 
thufiafm, and that defcriptivc, metaphorical 
expreffion, which diftinguiflics Poetry. 

As Language, rn its progrefs, began to 

grow more copious, it gradually loft that figu* 

Vol. L L rativc 


t E c T. rativc ftyle, which was its early charaSer* 
When men were furnifhd^d with proper and fa- 
miliar names for every objeft, both fenfible 
iand moral, they were not obliged to ufe fo 
many circumlocutions. Style became more 
precife, and, of courfe, more fimple. Imagi- 
nation too> in proportion as Society advanced, 
had lefs influence over mankind. The vehe- 
itient manner of fpeaking by tones and gef- 
tures began to be difufed. The underftand- 
ing was more exercifed -, the fancy, lefs. In- 
t-ercourfe among mankind becoming more ex- 
tenfive and frequent, clearnefs of ftyle, in fig- 
nifying their meaning to each other, was the 
iihief object of attention. In place of Poets, 
Philofophcrs became the inftruftors of m^ j 
and, in their rcafonings on all different fub- 
jeds, introduced that plainer and Ampler ftyle 
of compofition, which we now call Profe^ 
Among the Greeks, Pherecydes of Scyrosy the. 
raafter of Pythagoras, is recorded to have been 
the firft, who, in this fenfe, compofed aay 
writing in profe. The antient mctaphoricalx 
and poetical drefs of Lranguage, was now laid 
aftde from the intercourfe of men, and refervcd 
for thofe occafions only, on which ornament 
was profcflcdly ttudied. 

Thus I have purfued the Hiftory of Lan- 
guage through fome of the variations it has 
undergone : I have confidered it^ in the Hrft 



d P L A N p tJ A G E. 147 

ftrufture^ and compofitionj of words s in the L e c t. 
manner of uttering or pronouncing wordi ; 
and in the ftyle and charader of Speech. I 
have yet to confider it in another view, re- 
ipe£tiogthe order and arrangement of words j 
when we fhall find a progrefs to have taken 
place^ fimilar to what I have been now il« 
luftracing. ^ 


■■ y »^i^i » ■ »i I I ■ I 




H E N we attend to the order in which 
words are arranged in a fentence, or 
fignificant propofition, we find a very remark- 
able difference between the anticnt and the 
modern Tongues. The confideration of this 
will fcrve to unfold farther the genius of Lan- 
guage, and to Ihow the caufes of thofe altera- 
tipns, which it has undergone, in the progrefs 
of Socirty. 

In order to conceive diftinftly the nature of 
that alteration of which I now fpeak,. let us 
go back, as we did formerly, to the mod early 
period of Language. Let us figure to our- 
felves a Savage, who beholds fome objed*^ 
fuch as fruit, which raifes his defire, and who 
requefls another to giv6 it to him. Suppofing 
our Savage to be unacquainted with words, he 
would, in that cafe, labour to' make himfelf 
be underftood, by pointing earneftly at the 
2 - objcdt 



objeft which he defired, and utteHng at the l e c t. 
fame time a paflionate cry. Suppofing hirri 
to have acquired words, the firft word which 
he uttered would, of courfe, be the name of 
that objeft. He would hot cjtprefs himfelf, 
according to our Englilh order of conftruftion, 
** Give me fruit/' but, according to the La- 
tin order, " Fruit give me 5" " Frudlum da 
^* mihi :" For this plain rcafon, that his at- 
tention was wholly direfted towards fruit, the 
defired objeft. This was the exciting idea; 
the objeft which moved him to fpeak ; and, 
of couric, would be the firft named. Such 
an arrangement is precifcly putting into words 
the gefture which nature taught the Savage to 
ma)cc, before he was Acquainted with words ; 
jind therefore it may be depended apori as ter- 
tain, that he would fall mod readily into this 

Accustomed now to a different method of 
ordering our words, we call this an inverfion, 
and confider it as a forced and unnatural order 
of Speech. But though not the moft logical^ 
it is, however, in one view, the moft natural 
order ; bcCaufe, it is the order fuggefted by 
imagination and defire, which always impel 
us to mention their objeft in the firft place. 
We might therefore conclude, a priori, that 
this would be the order in which wordfs were 
ipoft cpmnnonly arranged at the beginnings of 

h 3 Language i 


Language ; and accordingly wc find, in fafl:, 
that, in this order, words are arranged in rnoft 
of the antient Tongues ; as in the Greek an4 
the Latin I and it is faid alfo, in the Ruflianx 
the Sclavonic, the Gaelic, and fevetal of the 
American Tongues. 

In the Latin Language, the arrangennent 
which nioft commonly obtains, is, to place 
firft in the fentence, that word which ex- 
prefTes the principal objedt of the difcourfe^^ 
together with its circumftances; and aftert- 
wards, the perfon, or the thing th2^t afts upon 
it. Thus Salluft, comparing together the 
ipind and the body ; " Apimi imperio, cor-. 
" porisfervjtio, magis utimyri" which ordef 
certainly renders the ftntence more lively an4 
ftriking, than when it is arranged according tq 
our Englifti conftruftion j ** We make moft 
<• ufe of the direftion of the foul, and of the 
*' fervicc of the body." The Latin order 
gratifies more the rapidity of the imagination^ 
which naturally runs firft to that which is its 
chief objefti and having once ns^med it, car- 
ries it in view throughout the reft of the fen- 
tence. In the fame manner in poetry : 

Juftum & tenacem propofiti virum, 
Non civium ardor prava- jubentium, 

Non vultus inftantis tyranni, 

^ente quatit foUda,— ^-* 





Every perfon of taftc muft be fcnfilile, that here 
the words are arranged with a much greater 
regard to the figure which the feveral objcfts 
make in the fancy, than our Englifh conftruc-. 
tion admits i which would require the " Juf- 
*^ turn & tenacem propofiti virum," though, 
undoubtedly, the capital objeft in the fentence^ 
to be thrown into the laft plaqe. 

I HAVE faid, that, in the Greek and Roman 
Languages, the moft common arrangement is, 
to place that firft which ftrikes the imagina- 
tion of the fpeaker moft. I do not, however, 
pretend, that this holds without exception. 
Sometimes regard to the harmony of the period 
requires a different order ; and in Languages 
fufceptiblc of fo much mufical beauty, and 
pronounced with fo much tone and modulation 
as were ufed by thofe nations, the harmony of 
periods was an objeft carefully fludied. Some- 
times too, attention to the perfpicuity, to the 
force, or to the artful fufpenlion of the fpeaker's 
meaning, alter this order; and produce fuch 
varieties in the arrangement, that it is not eafy 
to reduce them to any one principle. But, in 
general, this was the genius and charadler of 
moft of the antient Languages, to give fuch 
full liberty to the collocation of words, as al- 
lowed them to aflTume whatever order was moft 
agreeable to the fpeaker's imagination. The 
flebrcw is, indeed, an exception : which, 

L ^ though 



L \^f^ T. though noc altogether without inverfions^ yet 
employs them lefs frequently, and approaches 
nearer to the Englifh conftruftion, than cither' 
the Greek or the Latin. 

' All the modern Languages of Europe have 
adopted a different arrangement from the an- 
tient. In their profc compofitions, very little 
variety h admitted in the coUoc^^tion of words; 
they are moftly fised to one order » and that 
order is, what may be called the Order of the 
Underftanding. They place firft in the fcn- 
tence, the pcrfon or thing which fpcaks or 
a£ts ; next^ its adtion ; and laftly^ the obje& of 
its a£bion. So that the ideas are made to fbc- 
ceed to one another, not according ta thtr de- 
gree of importance which the feverai objeds 
carry in the imagination, but according to the 
order of nature and of time. 

An Englifh writer, paying a compliment ta 
a great man, would fay thus : " It i^ impof- 
^^ fible for me to pafs over, i?n filence, foch 
" remarkable mildpefs, fuch Angular and un- 
" heard -of clemency, and fuch untifual mode- 
^* ration, in the exercifc of fopreme power.^' 
Here we have, firft prefented to us, the pcrfon 
who fpeaks, " It is impofiibk for w^j'* next^ 
what that perfon is to do, " impoffiblc for hkn 
^* ta pa/s ov^r in ftlenct j" and laftly, the ob- 
jcft i^hiqh rnoyes hiip fo tcj dp, ** the mild- 


*f nefsj 


•* ncfs, clemency, and moderation of his pa- l e c t. 
^ tron." Cicero, from whom I have tranf- ^ * 
Jatcd thefc words, juft reverfes this order j be- 
ginning , with the objc£):, placing that firft 
which was the exciting idea in the fpeaker's 
mind, and ending with the fpeaker and his 
adion. '^ Tantam manfuetudinem, tarn inufi* 
" tatam inauditamque clementiam, tantum^ 
" que in fumma poteftace rerum omnium mo* 
^' dum, tacitus nuilo modo prjetcrire poffum/' 
(Orat. pro Marcelh) 

The Latin order is more animated; the En--^ 
}iih, moi^e clear and diftinft. The Romans 
generally arranged their words according to 
the order in which the ideas rofe in the fpeakerV 
imagination. We arrange them according ta 
the order in which the underftanding direA$ 
dicvfe ideas to be exhibited, in fuccelTion, to the 
tiew of another. Our arrangement, therefore, 
appears to be the conlequence of greater re- 
finement in the art of fpeech ; as far as clear- 
xiefe in communication is ufidtrftood to be the 
end of Speech. 

In poetry, where we are fuppofed to rife 
above the ordinary ftyle^ and to fpeak th^t 
l^anguage of fancy and piilion, our arrange-* 
ment \$ not altogether fo limited ; but fome 
greater liberty is allowed for tranfpofition^ 
^d invcrftpn. Eveii there^ however, that 


liberty is confined within narrow bounds^ in 
comparifon of the ancient Languages. The 
different modern Tongues vary from one an- 
other, in this refpeft. The French Language 
is, of them all, the moft determinate in the 
order of its words, and admits the lead of 
inverfion, either in profe or poetry. The 
Englilh admits it more* But the Italian re- 
tains the moft of the antienc tranfpofitivc 
character ; though one is apt to think it at- 
tended with a little obfcurity in the ftyle of 
fomc of their authors, who deal moft in thef<; 

It is proper, next, to obferve, that there i$ 
one circumftance in the ftrufture of all the 
modern Tongues, which, of neceffity, limits 
their arrangement, in a grea; mcafiire, to otie 
^xed and determinate train. We have difufed 
^hofe differences of termination, which, in the 
Greek and Latin, diftinguilhed the feveral 
cafes of nouns, and tenfes of verbs; and 
which, thereby, pointed out the mutual rela- 
tion of the feveral words in a fentence to one 
another, though the related words were dif- 
joined, and phced in different parts of the 
fentence. This is an alteration in the ftruc- 
ture of Language, of which I Ihall haye occar 
fion to fay more in the next Lefture. One- 
obvious effedt of it is, that we have now, for. 
the moft part, no. way left us to fhew the clofe • 




relation of any two words to each other in ^ ^J; t. 
meaning, but by placing them clofe to one 
another in the period. For inftance ; the 
Romans could, with propriety, exprefs them^ 
felves thus -, 

Extinflum nymphae crudeli fiyiere Daphnim 
Flebant, > 

Becaufc " jExtinfturn & Dajphnim,*' being 
both in the accufative cafe, this fhowed, that 
the adjective and the fubftantive were related 
to each other, though placed at the two extre- 
mities pf the line ; and that both were go- 
verned by the a6tive verb ^* Flebanjt,*' to 
which '^ nymphas" plainly appeared to be the 
nominative. The different terminations here 
reduced all into order, and made the Connec- 
tion of the feveral words perfectly xlear, But 
Jet us tranft^te thefe words literally ijito En- 
glilh, according to the Latin arrangement; 
«f Pea^ the nymphs by a cruel fate Daphnis 
*« lamented ; and they become a perfcft 
riddle, in which it is impodible to find any 

Jt was by means of thig contrivance, which 
obtJfincd in almoft aU the antient Languages, 
of varying the termination of nouns and verbs, 
and thereby pointing out the concordance, and 
^ihe government of the words, in a fcntcnce, 
tl^t they enjoyed fq much liberty pf tranfpofi- 


I ^ 


tioiij and could tnarfbal and arrange th^i^ 
words in any way that gratified the imagina- 
tion, or pleafed the car. When Language 
"came to be modelled by the northern nations , 
ivho overran the empire, they dropped the 
cafes of nouns, and the different termination 
of verbs, with the more eafe, becaufe they 
placed no great value upon the advantages 
arifing from fuch a ftrufture of Language. 
*Thcy were attentive only to clearnefs, and 
copioufnefs of cxpreflion. They neither re- 
garded much the harmony of found, nor fought 
to gratify the imagination by the collocation 
of words. They ftudied folely to expreft 
themfelves in fuch a manner as (hould exhibit 
their ideas to others in the mod diftindt and 
intelligible order. And hence, if our Lan- 
guage, by reafon of the fimple arrangement 
of its words, poflefles lefs harmony, Icfs 
beauty, and lefs force, than the Greek or La- 
tin ; it is, however, in its meaning, more ob'- 
vious and plain. 


•Thus I have (hewn what the natural Pro^ 
grefs of Language has been, in feveral material 
Articles } and this account of the Genius and 
]Progrefs of Language, lays a foundation for 
many obfervationS, both curious and ufeful. 
From what has been faid in this, and the pre? 
ceding Lefture, it appears, that Language 
was, at firft; barren in words, but defcriptive 



by the found of thefe words 5 and e3?preflSve l e c t. 
in the manner qf uttering them, by the aid. of ^"* 
fignificant tohf3 and geftures : Style was figu-^ 
rative and poetical: Arrangement was fanciful- 
and lively. It appears, that, in aU the fuccef-? 
five changes which Language has undergone, 
as the world advanced, the underftanding has 
gained ground on the fancy and imagination* 
Th€ Progrefs of Language, in this refpeft, re- 
fembles the progrefs of age in man. The 
imagination is nioft vigorous and predominant 
in youth ; with advancing years, the imagina- 
tion cools, and the underftanding ripens. 
Thus Language, proceeding from ftcrility to 
copioufnefs, hath, at the fame time, pro- 
ceeded from vivacity to accuracy 5 from 
fire and enthufiafm, to coolnefs and pre-* 
cifion. Thofe characters of early Ls^nguage, 
defcriptive found, vehement tones and gef- 
tures, figurative ftyle, and . inverted JMrange- 
ment, all hang together, have a mutual in- 
flu,ence on each other ; and ha^ve all gradually 
given place to arbitrary founds, calm pro- 
nunciation, fimple ftyle, plain arrangement. 
Langvage is become, in modern times, more 
cprreft, indeed, ajid acqijrate ; but, howevqr, 
Ipfs ftriking and animated : In its antient ftate,^ 
more fevourable to poetry and oratory i in its^ 
prctent, to reafon and philofophy. 



Having finiftied. my account of thcPrDgrefii 
of Speech, I proceed to give an account of the 
Progrcfs of Writing, which next dennands our 
hocice; though it will not require fo full a 
difcuflion a& the former fubjedk. 

Next to Speech, Writing is, beyond doubt, 
the moft ufeful art which men poflefs. It is 
plainly an improvement upon Speech, and 
therefore muft have been pofterior to it in 
order of time. At firft, men thought of 
nothing more than communicating their 
thoughts to one another, when prcfent, by 
means of words, or founds, which they uttered* 
Afterwards, they devifcd this further method, 
of mutual communication with one another, 
when abfent, by means of rnarks or cha- 
racers prefcnted to the- eye, which we call 

Written charaders are of two forts/ They 
d^re either figns for things, or figns for words# 
Of the former fort, figns of things, are the 
pictures, hieroglyphics, and fymbols^. •em-* 
ployed by the antient nations i of the latter 
fort, figns for Words, are the alphabetical cha- 
rafters, now employed by all Europeans. Thefe 
two kinds of Writing are generically, and 
cflentially, diftinft. 

Pictures were, undoubtedly, the firft cflay 
towards Writing. Imitation is fo natural to 



maft, that^ in all ages, and among all natibns, l e c t. 
fooie methods have ol;>tained, of copying or 
tracing the likenefs of fenfible objedts. Thofe 
methods would foon be employed by men for 
giving fomc impcrfcft information to others, 
at a diftance, of what had happened ; or, for 
preferving the memory of fafts which they 
fopght to record. Thus, to fignify that one 
man had killed another, they drew the figure 
of one man ftret^hed upon the earth, and of 
another ftanding by him with a deadly weapon 
in his band. We find^ in faA, that, when 
America was firft difcovered, this was the only 
fort of Writing known in the kingdom of 
Mexico. By hiftorical piftures, the Mexi^ 
cans are faid to have tranfmitted the memory 
pf the moil: important tranfadions of their 
empire. Thefe, however, muft have been 
extremely imperfe^ft records s and the nationis 
who had no other, muft have been very grofs 
and rude. Pictures could do no more than 
delineate external events. They could nei- 
ther exhibit the connexions of them, nor de^ 
fcribe fuch qualities as were not vifible to the 
eye, nor convey any idea of the difpolitions, or 
Wurds, of men. 


To fupply, in fome degree, this defeftj 

tliere arofe, in procefs of time, the invention 

of what are called, Hieroglyphical Charac^ 

ters ; which may be confidercd as the fecond 

8 ftage 


ftage of the Art of Writing. Hieroglyphici 
confift in certain fymbols^ which are made to 
ftand for invifible objefbs, on account of an 
analogy or refemblance which fuch fymbols 
were fuppofed to bear to the objefts. Thus, 
an eye, was .the hieroglyph ical fymbol of 
knowledge; a circle, of eternuy, which has 
neither beginning, nor end. Hieroglyphics, 
therefore, were a nnore refined and cxtenfive 
fpecies of painting, Piftures delineated the 
refemblance of external vifible objefts. Hiero- 
glyphics painted invifible objects, by analogies 
taken from the e:&ternal world. 

Among the Mexicans, were found fbme 
traces of hieroglyphical charafters, intermixed 
^ith their hiftorical pictures. But Egypt was 
the country where this fort of Writing was 
moft ftudied and brought rnto a regular art. 
In hieroglyphics was conveyed all the boafted 
irifdom of their priefts. According to the 
properties which they afcribed to animals, or 
the qualities with which they fuppofed natural 
objefts to be endowed, they pitched upon 
them to be the emblems, or hieroglyphics, of 
moral objefts; and employed them in^ their 
Writing for that end. Thus, ingratitude was 
denominated hf a viper; imprudence, by a 
fty ; wifdom, by an ant; victory, by a hawk ; 
a dutiful child^ by a ftork ; a man univerfally^ 
flxunaed^ by an. eel, which they fuppofed ta 


OP WftlTiNd* i6t' 

be found in company with no other filh* t t c t. 

Sometimes they joined together two or more 

of thefe hieroglyphical chara<Sters j as, a fer- 

pent with a hawk's head ; to denote nature^ 

with God prefiding over it. But, as many of* 

thofc properties of objefts which they affumed 

for the foundation of their hieroglyphics, were 

merely imaginary, and the allufions drawn 

from them were forced and ambiguous ; as 

the conjunftion of their charadlers rendered 

them ftill more obfcure, and muft have ex- 

preffed very indiftinftly "the connexions and 

relations of things s this fort of Writing could 

be no other than senigmatical, and confufed, 

in the higheft degree; and muft have been a 

very imperfe<5t vehicle of knowledge of any 


If has been imagined, that hieroglyphics 
were an invention of the Egyptian priefts, for 
concealing their learning from common viewi 
and that, upon this account, it was preferred 
by them to the alphabetical method of Writ- 
ing. But this is certainly a miftake. HierO'* 
glyphics were, undoubtedly, employed, aC 
firft, from neceffity, not from choice or refine- 
ment; and would never have been thought 
of, if alphabetical charaAers had been knowm 
The nature of the invention plainly fliows it 
to have been one of thofe grofs and rude effaya 
towards Writing, which were adopted in the 

Vol. I, M early 



L EC T. early ages of the world j in order to extend 
farther the firft method which they had em^- 
ployed of fimple piftures, or reprefentationi 
bf vifible bbjefts. Indeed, in after- tinncs, 
when alphabetical Writing was introduced 
into Egypt, and the hieroglyphical was, of 
courfe, fallen into difufe, it is known, that tht 
priefts ftill employed the hieroglyphical cha^ 
rafters, as a facred kind of Writing, now be- 
come peculiar to themfclves, and fervirig to 
give an air of myftery to their learning and 
religio-n. In this ftate, the Greeks found 
hieroglyphical Writing, when they began to 
have intercourfe with Egypt; and fome of 
their writers miftook this ufe, to which they 
foiind it applied, for the caufc that had given 
rife to the invention. 

As Writing advanced, from piftures oT 
vifible objefts, to hieroglyphics, or fymbols of 
things invifible^ from thefe latter, itadvancedy 
among fome nations, to fimple arbitrary marks 
which (tood for 6bje6bs, though without any 
refemblarice or analogy to theobjefts fignificd. 
<bf this nature was the method of Writing 
praftifcd among the Peruvians. They made 
ufe of fmall cords, of different colours; and 
by knots upon, thefe, of various fizes, and dif- 
ferently ranged, they contrived figns for giving 
mformati6n,and communicating their thought* 
to one another, 

8 Of 


6* WRltlNQ. lit 

Of this nature j^lfo, ^r^ thp written cbarac- t bo t, 
tcrs which ar^ gfed ,to ,thijs day, thro^ghout 
the great enfipire of Chin^* Th^ Chinefc have 
ho alphabet ctf lettei^a^ or fifrtpie founds, which 
coDDpofe their wprdfi. But evpry Tingle cha* 
faster which they vfe in Writing, is fignificant 
of an idea ; it is a jmark which A^nd$ f^r fome 
one thing, or objcflk* By confequeoce, th^ 
number of thefe charafters ntiuft be imfoenfe. 
It mvift cbrrefpond to the whole nurpber of 
objed:s, or id?as, which they have occafion tp 
exprefs; that is, to the whole number of 
Words which they employ in Speech : aay, it 
mud be gr^eater than the number of words ; 
one Word, by varying the. tone, wah which ic 
is fpoken, may be made to fignify feVeral dif- 
ferent tfciqgf . Tli^y axe iaid to li^ve ftventy 
thoufand of thofe written characters* Tq read 
and write them to perfedlion, is the iludy of a 
whole life ; which fubjefts learnii^g, ^mpng 
theno, to infinite difadvantage i ^.d .maft have 
greatly retarded the progrefs of all fpience. 


CojcjCfiBNifiTC the origin of th^ft Chinefe 
cfaarafbrrs, there lia^ve bpen djifferent opinions, 
aftd «n»uch cofiuoverfy* Accorrding i;o th^ 
xnoft pcdbttble accounts, the Chinefe* Wi:iti(^ 
rbegaa, like. the Egyptian, with pi^ure^, mA 
iiieroglyphieal figures. T.bcfe figures beljog, 
cin pno^efs^ abbreviated in their form, ifor Che 
fake of writing them e^fily^ and greatly ea- 
. ' Ma larged 


L E c T. largcd in their number, paiTed, at length, inta 
thofc marks or charafters which they now ufe, 
and which have fpread thcmfel?cs through 
feveral nations of the Eaft. For we arc in- 
formed, that the Japancfc, the Tonquinefc, 
and the Coroeans, who fpeak different lan- 
guages from one another, and from the in- 
habitants of China, ufe, however, the fame 
written characters with them; and, by this 
means, correfpond intelligibly with each other 
in Writing, though ignorant of the Language 
fpoken in their feveral countries; a plain 
proof, that the Chincfc charafbers are, like 
hieroglyphics, independent of Language ; are 
iigns of things, not of words. 

"" We have one inftancc of this fort of Writ- 
ing in Europe. Our cyphers, as they arc 
called, or arithmetical figures, i, 2, 3, 4, &c. 
which we have derived from the Arabians, arc 
fignificant marks, precifely of the fame na- 
ture with the Chinefe charafters. They have 
no dependence on words; but each figure 
denotes an objeft; denotes the number for 
which it Hands ; and, accordingly, on being 
prefented to the eye, is equally underftood by 
all the nations Who have agreed in the. ufe cxf 
thefe cyphers 5 by Italians, Spaniards, French, 
and Englifli, however diiFerent the Languages 
of th9fe nations are from one aaother, 
and whatever different names they give, -in 





their rcfpedlive I^anguages, to each numerical l e^ c t. 

As far, then, as we have yet advanced, 
nothing has appeared which refembles ovir let- 
ters, or which can be called Writing, in the 
fenfe we now give to that term. What, we 
have hitherto feen, were all diredt figns for 
things, and made no ufe of the medium of 
ibun4> or words j either figns by reprefenta- 
tion, as the Mexican piftures; or figns by 
analogy, as the Egyptian hieroglyphics j or 
figns by inftitution, as the Peruvian knots, the 
Chinefe charafters, and the Arabian cyphers. 

At length, in different nations, men became 
fenfible of the imperfeftion, the ambiguity, and 
the tedioufnefs of each of thefe methods of 
communication with one another^ They began 
to confider, that by employing figns which 
'^ould ftand not diredly for things, but for the 
words which they ufed i n Speech for naming thefe 
things, a confiderable advantage would be 
gained. For they reflefted farther, that though 
the number of words in every Language bej 
indeed, very great, yet the number of articu- 
late founds, which are ufed in compofing thefe 
words, is comparatively fmall. The fame 
fimple founds are continually recurring and 
repeated ; and are combined together, in va- 
rious ways, for forming all the variety of words 

M 3 which 



L E c T. whkh ^t utt^r. Thcjr bethofight tli^mftlves, 
therefore, of inventing figns, not foi* each 
word, hy itfelfj but for each of thofe fimplc 
founds t^hich we employ in forming our wurdsj 
jrndji by joining together & few of thofe figns, 
they fiw that it wouM be prafticablc to escprcfs, 
\t\ Writing, the Whole cdmbinations of foutids 
Which our words reqyirt^ 

The firft R:ep, in this new progrefs, wa^the 
invention of ian alphabet tf fyllables, which 
pfobably preceded the invention of an ^Jpha-* 
bet of letters, arrrotig feme ^f the antient na- 
tions ; and which rs faid to bt retained, to this 
day, in Ethiopia, and fome countries of India. 
By fixing upon a particular mark, or cha:ra(5ber, 
for every fy^'lable in the L^hguage, the n'lmiber 
off c!iara6kers, treeeffery tb t^ ufod in Writing, 
was reduced within "a much fmaller compaft 
than the -ntimber of words in tTiellianguage. 
St?ll, however, the number t)f chara6tcrs wa3 
greats and rnuft have continued to render 
both reading and Writing very laborious -ftrts. 
Till, at Idl', fome happy genius arofe; and 
tracing the founds tnade by the human voice^ 
to their moft Timple elements, reduced ihem 
fo ii'very fewvowcfls and confonants; and, by 
affixing to each of thefe the figns which we 
how call Letters* taught men how, by their 
combinations, -to put into Writing all -the ^if- 
ferenf ^ords^qr (Jpmbinations of found;, 'which 

X • they 

L E C T. 


th?y employed in Speech. By being reduced 
to this fimplrcity, the art of Writing was 
brougbt to its higheft ftate of perfedlioni and, 
in this ftate, we now enjoy it in all the coun- 
tries of Europe. 

To whom we a^re indebted for this fublime 
and refined difcovery, does not appear. Con- 
cje^led by the darknefs of remote antiquity, 
t^ great inventor is .deprived of thofe honours 
which would ftill be paid- to his ipemory, by 
all the loycjs of knowled^^ and learning. It 
^ppea^rs from the books which Mofes has writ- 
t;en, t^^t, ^mong the Jews, and probably 
^mong the Egyptians, letters had been in- 
vented prior to his jige. The univerfal tradi- 
tion among the antients ip, that they were firfl: 
imported into ^Greece by Cadmus the Phgeni- 
cian J who, according to the cpmmon fyftem 
of chronology, was contemporary with Jofliua; 
accprding to Sir Ifaac Newton's fyftem, con- 
temporary with King David. As the Phoeni- 
cians are not known to have been the inventors 
of ^ny ^rt or fcience, though, by rneans of 
^j:lei^ extenfive qommerce, they propagated the 
difcoveries made by other nations, the moft 
probable and natural account of the origin of 
alphabetical charadters is, that they took rife in 
Egypt, the firft civilized kingdom of which we 
Jiavc any authentic accounts, and the great 
fpurce of arts and polity among the antients. 

M 4 la 


^ VII ^' ^^ ^^^^ country, the favourite ftudy of hiero- 
glyphical charafters, had diredled much at- 
tention to the art of Writing. Their hiero- 
glyphics are known to have been intermixed 
with abbreviated fymbols, and arbitrary marks; 
whence, at laft, they caught the idea of con- 
triving marks, not for things merely, but for 
founds. Accordingly, Plato (in Phcedro) ex* 
prefsly attributes the invention of letters to 
Theuth, the Egyptian, who is fuppofed to 
have been the Hermes, or Mercury, of the 
Greeks. Cadmu5 himfelf, though he pafled 
from Phoenicia to Greece, yet is affirmed, by 
feveral of the antients, to have been originally 
of Thebes in Egypt, Moft probably, Mofes 
carried with him the Egyptian letters into the 
land of Canaan J and there being adopted by 
the Phoenicians, who inhabited part of that 
country, they were tranfmitted into Greece. 

% » 

The alphabet which Cadmus brought into 
Greece was imperfeft, and is faid to have con- 
tained only fixteen letters. The reft werfe af- 
terwards added, according as figns for proper 
founds were found to be wanting. It is 
curious to obferve, that the letters which we 
ufc at this day, can be traced back to this very 
alphabet of Cadmus. The Roman alphabet, 
which obtains with us, and with moft of the 
European nations, is plainly formed on the 
Greek, with a few variations. And all learned 




men obfcrve, that the Greek charafters, cfpc- h t c t, 
cfally according to the manner-in which they 
are formed in the oldcft infcriptions, have a re* 
markable conformity with the Hebrew or Sa- 
maritan charafters, which, it is agreed, are 
the fame with the Phoenician, or the alphabet 
of Cadmus. Invert the Greek charafters from 
left to right, according to the Phoenician and 
Hebrew manner of Writing, and they arc 
nearly the fame. Befides the conformity of 
figure, the names or denominations of the 
letters, alpha, beta, gamma, &c. and the 
order in which the letters are arranged, in all 
the feveral alphabets, Phoenician, Hebrew, 
Greek, and Roman, agree fo much, as amounts 
to a demonftration, that they were all derived 
originally from the fame fource. An inven- 
tion fo ufcful and fimple, was greedily re- 
ceived by mankind, and propagated with 
fpeed and facility through •many different 

The letters were, originally, written from 
the right hand towards the left; that is, in a 
contrary order to what we now praftife. This 
manner of Writing obtained among the Affy- 
rians, Phoenicians, Arabians, and Hebrews; 
and from fome very old infcriptions, appears 
to have obtained alfo among the Greeks. 
Afterwards, the Greeks adopted a new me- 
thod, writing their lines alternately from the 



I ECO*, righc to the left, and froix\ the left to xhie 
right, which was called B^^ufirofbedon \ or, 
writiag after the manner in which oxen plow 
the ground. Of this, feveral fpecimcns ftill 
remain; particularly, the infcription on the 
famous Sigsean mo,numcnt ; and down tp the 
days of Solon, tiie legifliacgr of Athen$, t]his 
continued to ^ be the . common nuetbod of 
Writing. At length, the motion from the 
left hand to the right being found more na- 
tural and commodious, the praftice of Writiog, 
in this diredtion, prevailed throughout all the 
«:ountries of Europe, 

Writing was lon^ a k,iqd of engray.i(ijg. 
Pillar?;, and .tajblejs .of ftone, were firft cip-? 
ployed for this purpofe, and ^fteirsW^rds, {dates 
of the fufter J3:ictals, fuol) as' lcf?.d, I,q p.i:o- 
portion as Wxiting bec^Oie more oonRmoq, 
lighter and n^ore port^ible fghftaitices were 
employed. The leaves, and the b^rk qF 
certain trees, were ufed in fome countries j 
ftudvin. others, tablets • of y(OQd, cpyerc^d N*ith 
3 jthin .cpat of ^oft wax, on which the iip- 
j^reiTion .w^s m^de y^Uh ,a ftylys qf itP.P. Jo 
la!;er times, the hides c^f animals, prciperly 
prepared, and pqUihed intoparchmei^t, were 
the moft common m^tejcials. Qur prefe.(it 
n-iethod of writing .on paper, is ^n ipyentifl^i 
pf greater ;^nti.^ui^y th^rj the rfQurteentb 


VI r. 


T«us I have given fomc account of the l e c t. 
Progrcfs of tbefe two great arts. Speech and 
Wriiing ; by which men's thoughts are conn- 
municatcd, and the foundation laid for all 
knowledge and improvement. Let us con- 
clude the fubjeft, with comparing in a few 
words, fpok-en Language, and written Lan- 
guage 5 or words uttered in our hearing, with 
words reprefcnted to the eye i where we ftiall 
find feveral advantages and difadv^nuges to 
be balanced ^on both (ides. 

The advantages of Writing above Speech 
are, that Writing is both a more extenfive, 
and a naore perman-ent method of communica- 
tion. More ex'ten five ; as it is not confined 
within the narrow circVe of thofe who hear our 
words, but, by means of written charafter s, we 
can fend our. thoughts abroad, and propagate 
them through the world j we can lift our 
voice, fo as to fpeak to the moft diftant regions 
of the earth. More permanent alfo j as it pro- 
longs this voice -to the moft diftant ages j i% 
gives us the means of recording our fentiments 
to 'futurity, and of perpetuating the inftruftivc 
memory of paft tranfaftions. It likewife affords 
this advantage to fuch as -read, above fudh as^ 
hear, .that, having the written characters be- 
fore their eyes, they can arreftthe fenfe of tlie 
writer. They can paufe, and revolve, and 
pompare, at their leifure, one palTage with an- 
other ; 



L E c T. Other; whereas, the voice is fugitive and pafT- 
ing; you muft catch the words the moment 
they are uttered, or you lofe them for ever. 


But, although thefe be fo great advantages 
of written Language, that Speech, without 
Writing, would have been very inadequate for 
the inftruftion of mankind; yet we muft not 
forget to obferve, that fpoken Language has 
a great fuperiority over written Language, in 
l^oint of energy or force. The voice of the 
living Speaker, makes an impreflion on the 
mind, much ftronger than can be made by 
the perufal of any Writing. The tones of 
voice, the looks and gefture, which accom- 
pany difcourfe, and which no Writing can 
convey, render difcourfe, when it is well ma- 
naged, infinitely more clear, and more ex* 
prcflive, than the moft accurate Writing. For 
tones, looks, and geftures, are natural inter- 
preters of the fentiments of the mind. They 
. remove ambiguities ; they enforce imprelfions j 
they operate on us by means of fympathy, 
which is one of the moft powerful inftruments 
of perfuafion. Our fympathy is always awakened 
more, by hearing the Speaker, than by read- 
ing his works in our clofet. Hence, though 
Writing may anfwer the purpofes of mere in- 
ftruftion, yet all the great and high efforts of 
eloquence muft be made, by means of fpoken^ 
not of written. Language. 




AFTER having given an account of the ^ vin '*'' 
Rife and Progrefs of Language, I pro- 
ceed to treat of its Strufture, or of General 
Grammar. The Stru£tui:e of Language is ex- 
tremely artificial ; and there are few fciences 
in which a deeper, or more refined logic, is 
employed, than in Grammar. It is apt to be 
flighted by fuperficial thinkers, as belonging 
to thofe rudiments of knowledge, which were 
inculcated upon us in our earlieft youth. But 
what was then inculcated before we could com- 
prehend its principles, would abundantly re-* 
pay our ftudy in maturer years ; and to the 
ignorance of it, muft be attributed many 
of thofe fundamental defefts which appear in 

Few authors have written with philofophi- 
cal accuracy on the principles of General 
Grammar ; and, what is more to be regretted, 
fewer ftill have thought of applying thofe 

2 principles 



h E^ c T. principles to the Englifh Language. Whil^ 
the French tongue has long been an obje<5l of 
attention to rriany able and ingenious writers 
of that nation, who have conlidered its con- 
ftruftion, and determined its propriety with 
great accuracy, the Genius and Grammar of 
the Englifh, to the reproach of the country, 
have not been ftudied with equal care, or 
afcertained with the fame precifion* Attempts 
have been made, indeed, of late, towards 
fupplying this defedj and fomc able writers 
have entered on the fubje£l| but much re- 
mains yet to be done. 

I DO not propofe to give any {y&cm^ either 
of Grammar in general, or of Englifh Gram- 
mar in particular. A miaute difcuffion of the 
niceties of Language would carry us too mueh 
off from other objects, which demand our at- 
tention in this courfe of Ledures. But I pro- 
pofe to give a general view of the chief prio- 
fcjples relating to this fubjedt, in obfervations 
pn the feveral parts of which Speech or Lanr 
guage ' is compofed ; rematkihg, as I go 
along, the peculiarities of our own Tongue^ 
After ^hich, ^ I Ihall make fome more par- 
ticular remarks qn the Genius of the Englifh 

The firfl: thing to be conliderccj, isj th€ di*- 
Tifion -of the feveral parts of Speech. Thf 



cflcntial palrts of Speech Jlrc the fame in all leg t. 
Languages. There muft always be {omt 
wdrds which denote the naniei^ of objefts, of 
rrtark the fubjeft of difcourfe 5 other words* 
which denote the qualities of thofe objeds, 
and exprefs what we affirm concerning them ; 
and other words, which point out their con- 
nexions and relations. Hence, fubftantives, 
pronouns, ddjeftives, verbs, prepofitions, arid 
conjunftions, muft neceflarily be found in all 
Languages. The mdft fimpie and compre* 
hen five divifion of the parts of Speech is, into 
fubftantives, attributives, and conneftivcs*; 
Subftantives, are all the words which exprefs 
the names of objed^, or the fubjefts of dif- 
courfe J attributives, are all the words which 
exprefs any attribute, property, tr aftion of 
the former J conncftives, are wbat exprefs the 

♦ Qsinftilldh'infoftos lis, that thfc w^ the ihofl antient 
divition. *' Tula videbit qaot & quae Aint partes araciORii. 
*^ QoAfl^uam d« niim^ro param convenic. Ve^er^s eoim^ 
** quorum fueranc Ariftoteles atque Theodides, vWba 
" modo, & nomlna, k cohvin^liones tradiderunt. Tide- 
*^ licet, quod in verbis Vim feilnonis, in nominibus mate- 
'' liam (qora alcerum ttl ^iiod bqaiintir, alteram de qtio 
'' IbqvinmO, in convinfttonibos^utem comprexum eorum 
" efle jadidtruDt ; qua^ conjunfliones aplefifque dici fcio^ 
'^ Ted hsc videt'ur ex aw^.<fixu magis propria tranflatio« 
*\ PauIatHil a pliiiofophicis do ti)axiA)«r^ fldcid, amdtus el^ 
'< titrtnems ; ^c primiin cMvih^ionibus artfculi adjeAF^ 
" po2i praepofitiones ; nominibtts, appellatio, deinde pro- 
** nomen ;. deinde miftum verbo participium ; ipfis verbis, 
*' adverbial' Lib. I. cap, iv. 



I E c T. connexions, relations, and dependencies^ 
which take place among them* The common 
grammatical divifion of Speech into eight partsj 
nouns, pronouns, verbs, participles, adverbs^ 
prepolitions, interjections, and conjunctions^ 
is not very logical, as might be eafily Ihewn ; 
as it comprehends, under the general term of 
nouns, both fubftantives and adjeftives, which 
are parts of Speech gcnerically and eflentially 
diftindl; while it makes a feparate part of 
Ipeech of participles, which are no other than 
verbal adjeftives. However, as thefe are the 
terms to which our ears have been moft fami- 
liarifed, and, as an exa£t logical divifion is of 
no great confequence to our prefent purpofe, 
it win be better to make ufe of thefe known 
terms than of any other. 

We are naturally led to begin with the con- 
fid^ration of fubftantive nouns, which are the 
foundation of all Grammar, and may be con-^ 
fidered as the moft antient part of Speech. 
For, afluredly, asfoon as men had got beyond 
fimple interjections, or exclamations of paflion, 
and began to communicate themfelves by dlf- 
courfe, they would be under a neceffity of af- 
figning names to the objeCts they faw around 
them; which, in Grammatical' Language, is 
called the Invention of fubftantive nouns *. 


* I do not mean to afTert, that, among all nation s« the 
firil invented words were ilmple and regular fubil&ntive 



And here, at our firft fetting out, fomewhat l e c t. 
curious occurs. The individual objefts which 
furround us, are infinite in number. A fa*- 
vage, wherever he looked, beheld forefts and 

noQiiSi Noth)*^ IS inorfe difSciiU, than b afcertain tti« 
prtcife fteps bf which rten proceeded in the formaiibn of 
Language. Names for objedls mufl, doubdefs, have arifea 
in the mod early ilages of Speech. But, it is probable, as 
lie learned Author of the Treatife, Oft t&e Origin and Pro- 
j^efs of Language, has (hown (vol. it p. 371. 395,), that^ 
among fcveral favage tribes, fome of the firft articirlate 
foond^ that were formed, denoted a whole fentence rather 
than the name of a particular objedl ; conveying fome in- 
formation, or expreffing fome defirSs or fears, fuited to the 
circannftances in which that tribe was i)laced, or relating to 
the bttfineis they had moft frequent occafion to carry on i 
as, the lion is coming, the Hver is fwelling, &c. Many of 
their firft words, it is likewife probable, were not fimple 
fabftantive nouns, but fubftantives, accompanied with fom^ 
of thofe attributes, in conjun^ion with which they werci 
moft frequently accsftomed to behoid theni; as^ the great 
bear, the little hut, the wound made by the hatchet, tec* 
Of all which, the Author produces inftances from feveral 
of the American Languages; and it is> undoubtedly, fuit- 
able to the natural courfe of the operations of the human 
Inindx thus to begin with particulars the moft obvious t» 
feji(e> and to proceed, from thefe, to more general expref> 
lions. He likewife obferves, that the words of ihofe pri* 
mitive tongues are far from being, as we might fuppofe 
tfaeiB, rode and (hort, and crowded with confonants; but, 
ea the contrary, are, for the moft part, long words, and 
full of vowels. This is the confequence of their being 
formed apon the natural founds which the voice utters with 
Ihoft eaiie^, a little varied and diftinguifhed by articulation ; 
and he fliows this to hold, in fad, among moft of the bar« 
baroiu Languages which are known. 

Vol. I. N trees. 


L E c T. trees. To give feparate names to every one <Jf 
thofc trees, would have been an endlefs and 
ioiprafticable undertaking. His firil obje£b 
ivas, to give a name to that particular tree, 
whofe fruit relieved his hunger, or whofe 
lliade protcftcd him from the fun. But ob<- 
ferving, that though other trees were dillin- 
guiflied from this by peculiar qualities of fize 
Or appearance, yet, that they alfo agreed and 
tefcmblcd one another^ in certain common qua- 
lities, fuch as fpringing from a root, and bear* 
ing branches and leaves, he formed, in his mind, 
fjme general idea of thofe common qualities, 
and ranging all that pofTefled them under one 
clafs of objefts, he xralled that whole clafs, a 
free. Longer experience taught him to fubdi- 
vide this genu's into the feveral fpecies of oak, 
pine, alh, and the red, according as his ob- 
fervation extended to the feveral qualities in 
which thcfe trees agreed or differed. 

BtiTT, ff ill, he made ufc only of general 
terms in Speech. For the oak, the pine, and 
the afh, were names of whole claffes of ob- 
jeftsi each of which included an immenfe 
number of undiftinguifhed individuals. Here 
then, it appears, that thotigh the formation of . 
abftraft, or general conceptions, is fuppofed 
to be a difficult operation of the mind> fuch 
conceptions muft have entered into the very 
firft formation of Language. For, if we ex- 

rtpt only the proper names of perfons, fuch as l i: c t. 
Caefar, John, Peter, all the other fubftantive 
nouns which we employ in difcourfe, are the 
nannes> not of individual objefts, but of very 
extenfive genera, or fpecies of objefts ; asj 
man, lion, hoiife, river, &c. We are not, 
however, to imagine, that this invention of 
general, or abftraft terms j requires any great 
exertion of metaphyfical capacity : For, by 
whatever fteps the mind proceeds in it, it is 
certain, thar^ when men have once obferved 
refemblances among objefts, they are natu- 
rally inclined to call all thofe which refemble 
one another, by one common name j and of 
couffe, to clafs them under one fpecies. We 
may daily obferve this praftifed by children, 
in their firft attempts towards acquiring Lan- 

BCT now, after Language had proceeded as 
far as I have defcribed, the notification which 
it made of obj efts was ftill very imperfeft i 
For, when one mentioned to another, in dif* 
courfe, any fubftantive noun j fuch as, man, 
lion, or tree, how was it to be known which 
man, which lion, or which tree he meant, 
among the many comprehended under one 
name ? Here occurs a very curious, and a very 
ufeful contrivance for fpecifying the indiyidual 
c^bjeft: intended, by means of that part of 
Speech called the Article. 

». : N a The 


L E C T. 



The force of the Article confifts, in point- 
ing, or fingling out from the common mafs, 
the individual of which we mean to fpcak. 
In Englifti, we have two Articles, a and tbe-f 
a is more general and unlimited ; the more de- 
finite and fpecial. A is. much the ftme with 
eney and marks only any one individual of a fpc- 
ciess that individual being either uiiknowHy 
or left undetermined ; as, a Hon, a king. The, 
which poflefles more properly the force of 
the Article, afcertains fome known or deter- 
mined individ-ual of the fpecies j as^ the tiooy 
the king* 

Articles are words of great ufe in Speechr 
In fome Languages, however, they are noi. 
found. The Greeks have but one Article^ 
i TO, which anfwers to our definite, or proper 
Article, the. They have no word which an- 
fwers to our Article a ; but they fupply its* 
place by the abfence of their Article : Thus^ 
BatnXtu? fignifks, ^f king; I Bao-iXfu?, tha kiug. 
The Latins have no Article, In the room of 
It, they employ pronouns, as, hie, ille, iftc, for 
pointing, out the objefts which they want X& 
diftinguifli. /^ Nofter fermo," fays Qginfti-^ 
lian, *' articulbs non defiderat, ideoquc m 
'^ alias partes orationis fparguntur.*' This,, 
however, appears tp me a defed in the I-.atinj 
tongue J as Articles eontriliute much t^ th^*. 
clearnefs and precifiouof Language. 



In order to illuftrate this, remark, what ^J,^*^* 
difference there is in the meaning of the fol- 
lowing expreffions in Englifti, depending 
wholly on the different employment of the 
Articles : " The fon of a king — The fon of 
*' the king — A fon of the king's." Each of 
thefc three phrafes has an entirely different 
meaning, which I need not explain, becaufe 
any one who underftands the Language, con- 
ceives it clearly at firft hearing, through the' 
different application of the Articles, a and the. 
Whereas, in Latin, " Filius regis," is wholly 
undetermined; and to explain, in which of 
thcfe three fenfes it is to be underflood, for it 
may bear any of them, a circumlocution of 
fcvcral words muft be ufed. In the fame man- 
ner, " Are you a king ?" *' Are you the 
** king ?" are queftions of qurite feparate im- 
port 5 which, however, arc (Confounded toge- 
ther in the Latin phrafe, " efne tu rex ?*' 
" Thou art a man," is a very general and 
harmlefs pofition j but, " thou art the man,** 
is an aflfertion, capable, we know, of ftriking 
terror and remorfe into the heart. Thcfe ob- 
fervations illuftrate the force and importance. 
of Articles : And, at the fame time, I gladly 
lay hold of any opportunity of fhowing the ad- 
vantages of our own language. ^ 

Besides, this quality of being particularifed 
ty the Article^ three affeftions belong to fub- 

N 3 ft^ntive 


.t E c T. ftantivc nouns, number, gender, and cafe, 
which require our conGderation, 

• . 

Number diftinguifhes them as one, or many, 
of the fame kind, called the Singular and 
Plural; a diftinftion found in all Languages^ 
and which muft, indeed, have been coeval with 
the very infancy of Language j as there were, 
few things which men had more frequent oc-. 
cafion to exprefs, than the difference between 
one and many. For the greater facility of ex-, 
prelling it, it has, in all Languages, been 
marked by fome variation made upon the fub- 
ftantive noun ; as we fee, in Englilh, our plu- 
ral is commonly formed by the addition of the 
letter S. In the Hebrew, Greek, and fome 
other antient Languages, we find, not only a 
plural, but a dual number; the rife of which 
may very naturally be accounted for, from fe* 
parate terms of numbering not being yet in- 
vented, and one, two, and many, being all, 
or, at lead, the chief numeral diftindtions 
which men, at firft, had any occafion to take 
notice of. 

Gender, is an affeftion of fubftantive nouns^ 
which will lead us into more difcuflion than 
number. Gender, being founded on the dif- 
tinftion of the two fexes, it is plain, that, in 
a proper fenfe, it can only find place in the 
names of living creatures, which admit the 



diftin<5kion of male and female j and, therefore, 
can be ranged under the mafculine or feminine 
genders. All other fubftantive nouns ought 
to belong, to what grammarians call, the 
Neuter Gender, which is meant to imply the 
negation of either fex. But, with refpeft to 
this diftribution, fomewhat Angular hath ob- 
tained in the ftrufture of Language. For, in 
Gorrcfpondence to that diftinftion of male and 
female fex, which runs through all the clafles 
of animals, men have, in moft Languages, 
ranked a great number of inanimate objefts 
alfo, under the like diftinftions of mafculine 
and feminine. Thus we find it^ both in the 
Greek and Latin Tongues. Gladius, a fword, 
for inftance, is mafculine j fagittay an arrow, 
is feminine; and this adignation of fex to in- 
animate objefts, this diftinftion of them into 
mafculine and feminine, appears often to be 
entirely capricious; derived from no other 
principle than the cafual ftrufture of the Lan- 
guage, which refers to a certain gender, words 
pf a certain termination. In the Greek and 
Latin, however, all inanimate objedts are not 
diftributed into mafculine and feminine ; but 
many of them are alfo clafled, where all of 
them ought to have been, under the neuter 
gender ; as, templutny a church ; fedile^ a feat. 

. But the genius of the French and Italian 
Tongues d|ifiv?rs, in this refpeft, frorn the 

N ^ Greek 


L H G T, Greek and L^tin. In the French and ItaUan« 
from whatever caqfe it has happened, To it is^, 
that the neuter gender is wholly unknown, and 
that all their names of inaniinatc objedks are 
put upon the fame footing with living crea- 
tures ; and diftributcdj without exception, intq* 
iiTtafcuUne and feminine. The French have 
two articles, the mafculine /^f, and the feminine' 
la 5 and one or other of thefc is prefixed to 
all fubAamive nouns in the Language, to de-> 
note their gender. The Italians make the- 
fame univerfal ufe of their articles il and /^, 
for the mafculine i and la, for the feminine. 

In the Englifli Language, it is remarkable 
that there obtains a peculiarity quite oppofite. 
In the French and Italian, there is no neuter 
gender. In the Englifh, when wc ufe com- 
mon difcourfe, all fubftantivc nouns, that are 
not names of living creatures, are neuter, 
without exception. Hcy Jbe, and //, are the 
marks of the three genders; and we always 
ufe ity in fpeaking of any objeft where there- 
is no fex, or where the fex is nat known. 
The Englifli is, perhaps, tiie only Language in* 
the kno>yn world (except the Chincfe, which 
is faid to agree with it in this particular), where 
the diftindipn of gender is properly and phi- 
lofophically applied in the ufe of words, and 
confined, as it ought to be, to marie the real 
diftindions of male and female^ 



Hence arifcs a very great and fignal ad-.LEcr. 
vantage of the Englifh Tongue, which it U. 
of confequence to remark *• Though in com-, 
men difcourfe, as I have already obferved, we 
employ only the proper and literal diftintStiOn 
of fexes J yet the genius of the Language per- 
mits us, whenever it will add beauty to out 
difcourfe, to make the names of inanimate ob- 
jecSls mafculine or feminine in a metaphorical 
fenfci and when, we do fo, we are underftood 
to quit the literal ftyle, and to vfe one of the 
figures of difcourfe. 

For inftance; if I am fpeaking of virtue, in 
the courfe of ordinary converfation, or of ftri£lj 
reafoning, I refer the word to no fcx or gender^ 
I fay, " Virtue is its own reward;" or, *^ i( 
^' is the law of our nature." But if I chufc ta 
rife into a higher tone ; if \ feek to embellilh 
and animate my difcourfe, 1 give a fex to 
virtue \ I fay, *' She defcends from Heaven ;" 
** (he alone confers true honour upon man j" 
*^ her gifts are the only durable rewards." By 
this rneans, we have it in our power to vary 
our ftyle at pleafure. By making a very flight 
alteration, we can perfonify any objeft that 
we chufe to introduce with dignity \ and by 

* The following obfervations on the metaphorical ufe of 
genders, in the £ngliil\ i.aii§uage, are uken from Mr* 
Jfairis's tfermes. 




i R c T. this change af manner, we give warning, that 
we are paffing from the ftrid and logical, to the 
ornamcBted and rhetorical ftyle, 

* This is an advantage which, not only every 
poet, but every good writer and fpeaker in 
profe is, on many occafions, glad to lay hold 
of, and improve : and it is an advantage pe« 
culiar to our Tongue ; no other L*anguage 
pofieffcs it. For, in other Languages, every 
word has one fixed gender, mafculine, femi- 
nine, or neuter, which can, upon no occafion, 
be changed ; aj gru, for inftance, in Greek, 
virtas in Latin j and la vertu in French, are 
uniformly feminine. She, muft always be the 
pronoun anfwering to the word, whether you 
be writing in poetry or profe, whether you be 
nfing the ftyle of reafoning, or that of decla- 
mation : whereas, in Englifh, we can either 
cxprefs ourfelves with the philofophical accu- 
racy of giving no gender to things inanimate; 
or by giving them gender, and transforming 
them into perfons, we adapt them to the ftyle 
of .poetry, and, when it is proper, we enliven 

It defcrves to he further remarked on thi§ 
fubjeft, that, when we employ that liberty 
which our Language allows, of afcribing fex to 
any inanimate objc^, we have not, however^^ 
the libe^-ty of making it of what gender we 


VI il. 


pleafe, mafculine or feminine; but are, in l e c t* 
general^ fubje&ed to fomc rule of gender which 
the currency of Language has fixed to that ob- 
jedt. The foundation of that rule is imagined, 
by Mr. Harris, in his " Philofophical En- 
" quiry into the Principles of Grammar," to 
be laid in a certain diftant rcfemblahce, or 
analogy, to the natural diftinftion of the two 

Thus, according to him, we commonly 
give tjie mafculine gender to thofe fubftantivc 
nouns ufed figuratively, which are confpicuous 
for the attributes of imparting, or communi-f 
eating; which are by nature ftrong and effica- 
cious, either to good or evil; or which have 
a claim to fome eminence, whether laudable 
or not. Thofe again, he imagines, to be ge- 
nerally made feminine, which are confpicuous 
for the attributes of containing, and of bring- 
ing forth ; which have more of the paffive in 
their nature, than the aftive ; which are pecu*. 
liarly beautiful, or amiable ; or which have 
refpedt to fuch exceffcs as are rather feminine 
than mafculine. Upon thefe principles he 
takes notice, that the fun is always put in the 
rnafculine gender with us ; the moon in the fe- 
minine, as being the receptacle of the fun's 
light. The earth is, univerfally, feminine. A 
^ip, a country, a city, are likewife made fe- 
ipinine, as receivers, or containers. God, in 

. aU 


aJl Languages, ismafculinc. Time, we make; 
mafculine, on account of its mighty tSiczcy^ 
virtue, feminine, from its beauty, and its being 
the objeft of love. Fortune is always feminine. 
Mr. Harris imagines, that the reafons which 
determine the gender of fuch capital words as 
rhefe, hold in moft other Languages, as well, 
as the Englilh. This, however, appears doubt- 
ful. A variety of circumftances, which feem 
cafual to us, becaufe we cannot reduce them 
to principles, muft, unqueftionably, have in- 
fluenced the original formation of Languages j 
and in no article whatever does Language ap- 
pear vo have been more capricious, and to have 
proceeded lefs according to fixed rule, than in 
the impofition of gender upon things inani- 
mate ; cfpccially among fuch nations as have 
applied the diftintftion of mafculine and femi- 
nine to all fubftantive nouns. 

Having difcufied gender, I proceed, next, 
to another remarkable peculiarity of fubilan-' 
live nouns, which, in the ftyle of grammar, 
is called their declenfion by cafes. Let us, 
firft, confidcr what cafes fignify. In order to 
underftand this, it is neceflary to obferve, 
that, after men had given names to external 
pbjefts, had particularifed them by means of 
the article, and diftinguilhed them by number 
^nd gender, ftill their Language remained ex- 
tremely imperfcd:^ till they had dcvifed fome 

^ wetho4 


method of exprcffing the relations which thofe l r. c t,, 
obje(9:$ bore, one towards another. Tbcy ^*^** 
would find it o( little ufe to have a name for 
man, lion, tree, river, without being able, zt 
the fame tiaie, to fignify how tbcfe ftopd with 
rcfped to each other j whether, as approach^r 
ing to, receding fron), joined with, and the 
jike. Indeed, the relations which objeds bear 
to one another, are imoienfcly nuoierous ; and 
therefore, to devife names for them all, mvifk 
have been anK>Bg the laft and moft difficult re^ 
finements of Language. But, in its aioft early 
periods, it was abfolutely n«ce0ary to exprefs, ia 
fame way or other, fuch relatione as were moft 
important, and as occurred naoft frequently in 
common Speech. Hence the genitive, dative^ 
and ablative cafes of nouns, which exprefs the 
noun itfelf, together with thofe relations, of^ 
tByfromy witb^ and byi the relations which wc 
have the moft frequent occafion to mention^ 
The proper idea then of cafes in dcclenfion, \% 
no other than an eKpfcflion of the ftate, or re- 
iatioti, which one obje<St bears to another, de^ 
noted by fome variation made upon the name 
of that objcftj moft commonly in the final 
letters, a-nd by fome Languages, in the initiaU 

All Languages, however, do not agree in 
this mode of expreflion. The Greek, Latin*^ 
and feveral other Languages, ufe declenfion. 
The Englifti, French, and Italian, dp notf or^ 



i E c T. ^at moft> ufc it very imperfeftly. In place of 
the variations of cafts, thefe modern Tongues 
cxprefs^ the relations of objefts, by means of 
the words called Prcpofitions, which denote 
thofc relations, prefixed to the name of the 
objcft^ Englifli nouns have no cafe whatever, 
txcept a fort of genitive, commonly formed 
by the addition of the letter s to the noun ; z^ 
when we fay " Dryden's Poems," meaning 
the Poems of Dryden. Our perfonal pronouns 
have alfo a cafe, which aftfwers to the accufa- 
tive of the Latin, /, me, — he, him, — who, 
whom. There is nothing, then, or at leaft 
very little, in the Grammar of our Language, 
which correfponds to declenfion in the antient 

Two queftionsj refpefting this fubjeft, may- 
be put. Firft, Which of.thcfe methods of ex-: 
prefllng relations, whether that by declenfionj 
or that by prepofitions, was the moft antient 
ufage in Language? And next, Which of 
them has the beft effed ? Both methods, it is 
plain, are the fame as to the fenfe, ajxl differ 
only in form. For the fignificancy pf the Ro- 
man Language would not' have been altered* 
though the nouns, like ours, had been with- 
out cafes,' provided they had employed prepo- 
fitions ', and though, to exprefs a difciple of 
tlato, they had faid, " Difcipulus de Plato," 
like the modern Italians, in place of " Difci- 

^* pulus ?latonis." 



Now, with refped to the antiquity of cafes, 
although they may, on firft view, feem to con- 
fticute a nciore artificial method than the other^ 
of denoting relations^ yet there are ftrong 
reafons for thinking that this was the earlieft 
method pra'ftifcd by men* We find, in fa<5l, 
that declenfions and cafes are ufed in moft of 
what are called the Mother Tongues, or Ori^ 
ginal Languages, as well as in the Greek and 
♦Latin. And a very natural and fatisfying ac- 
count can be giVen why this ufage Ihould hare 
early obtained. Relations are the moft ab- 
ftraft and mctaphyfical ideas of any which 
men have occalion to form, when they are con- 
fidered by themfclves, and feparated from the 
related objeft. Jt would puzzle any man, as 
has been well obfcrved by an Author on this 
fubje6t, to give a diftinft account of what i's 
meant by fuch a word as vfy orfromy when it 
ftands by itfelf, and to explain all that may be 
included under it. The firft rude inventors of 
Language, therefore, would not, for a long 
while, arrive at fuch general terms. In place 
of confidering any telatiotl in the abfttaft, and 
devifing a name for it, they would much more 
eafiiy conceive, it in conjunction Vith a parti- 
cular objefti and they would exprefe their 
conceptions of it, by varying the name of that 
objefl: through all the different cafes ; bominis^ 
of a man ; homini, to a man i. hotnine, with i 
man^ &c. 




t E c T, But, though this method of dccleftfioii was< 

probably> the only method yfhi^h met) xtxx^ 

ployed, ac firft, for denoting relations, yet, in 

progrefs of time, many other relatione being 

obferved, befidcs thofe which arc fignifted by 

the cafes of nounsi and men alfo beceming 

more capable, of general and metapl^yfical 

.ideas, fcpar^c names were gradually invented 

for all the relations which occurred, forming 

.that part of Speech which wc now call Prcpo* 

.fuionSi Prepofitions btii^ once introduced^ 

they were found to be capable of fupplying 

the place of cafes, by being prefixed to th^ 

.nominative of the noyn. Hence, it came to 

.pafs, that, as nations were intermixed by n}i- 

.grations and conqiieftsi and were obliged to 

learn, and adopt the Languages of ^ne an* 

other, prepofitions fupplanted the ufe of cafes 

-and decicnfion^. When the Italian Tongv^^ 

.for inftance, fprung opt of the Rom^n, it was 

found more eafy ^nd fimplc, by the Gothk^ 

.nations, to accpajmp.datc a few jrepofitions to 

the nominative of every noun, and to fay di 

^Roma, ai Roma^ di Carthago^ al Curthaga^ 

%hdx\ to remember all the variety of termifUr 

.tions, Roma^ RcvMm^ Cqrfhaginis, Car^kagi'- 

^em, which the ufe of decknfions j^q^jired 

in the aoiient nouns. By this progreJfs ,we cap 

jgive a natural account how nouns, iji.ouf. tiior 

4ern Tongues, conie to be fa void pf de^lenr 

fion : A progrefs which is fully illnftf^t^d in 

' r Dr* 


Br. Adam Smith's ingenious Diflertation otl l b c t. 
the Forniation of Languages; 

. With regard to the other queftion on this 
Ibbjcft, Which of thefc two methods is of 
the greater utility and beauty ? we ihall find 
advantages and difadvantages to be balanced 
on both (ides. There is no doUbt that,, by abo- 
Hfliing cafes, wc have rendered the ftrufture 
of modern Languages more fimplc. We have 
difembarraflfed it of all the intricacy which 
aro(e from the different forms of declenfjoni 
of which the Romans had no fewer than five; 
and from all the irregularities in thefe feveral 
declenlions. Wc have thereby rendered our 
Languages more eafy to be acquired^ and lefs 
fubje6): to the perplexity of rules. But, though 
the fimpltcity and eafe of Language be great 
and eftimable advantages, yet there are alfo 
Aich difadvantages attending the modern me- 
thod, as leave the balance, on the whole> 
doubtful, or rather incline it to the fide of 

Foli, ift the firft place, by our dOnftant ufe 
of prepofitions for exprefflng the relations of 
things, we have filled Language ^ith a mul- 
titude of Ihofe little Irords, Which are cter- 

' . . . • 

nally oCcurririg irt every fttltence, arid may be 
thought thereby to have encumbered Speech^ 
by an addition of terms ; and by rendering it 
mord prdlixy to have enervated its force. Irt 
Vol. !• O the 

/ ' 

VI ir. 


h E c T. the fecond placej wc have certainly rendereS^ 
the found of Language lefs agreeable to the 
car, by depriving it of that variety and fweet- 
nefs, which arofe from the length of words^ 
and the change of terminationsj occafioned by^ 
the cafes in the Greek and Latin. But, in the 
third place, the moft material difadvantage is, 
that, by this abolition of cafes, and by a fimilar 
alteration, of which I am to fpeak in the next 
Lcdture, in the conjugation of verbs, we have 
deprived ourfelves of that liberty of tHmfpofi-^ 
tion in the arrangement of words, which the 
Antient Languages enjoyed. 

In the Antient Tonguesy as I formerly ob-. 
fervedi the different terminations, produced 
by declenfion and conjugation^ pointed out 
the • reference of the feveral words of a fen-- 
tence to orte artothery without the aid of jux« 
tapofition J ftffFered them to be placed, with-* 
out ambiguity, in whatever order was mofi 
fuitcd to give force to the meaning, or har-^ 
mony to the found. But nowy having none 
of thofe marks of relation incorporated with 
the wofds themfelves, we have no other way left 
tis, of Hiqwing what ^ords in a fi^ntence are 
moft clofely'Conne<5):ed in meaning^tban that of 
placiiVg them clafe by one another in the periods 
The meaning of the fcntence is brought out in 
f(^parate members and portions ^ it is brokenr 
down and divided^ Whereas the ftru6ture of 
the Greek and Roman ieAtem:es> by the go* 



Vernnlent of th^ir notins and verbs, prefented i- i^ c n 
the meaning fo interwoven and compounded 
in all its parts> as to make us perceive it in 
one united view. The clofing words of the 
period afcertained the relation of each member 
to another; and all that ought to be con- 
ncdted in our idea, appeared connefted in the 
expreflion* Hence, more brevity, more viva- 
City, more force. That luggage of particle? 
(as an ingenious Author happily expreffes it), 
which we are, obliged always to Carry along 
trith us, both clogs ftyle, and enfeebles fenti^ 
ment *. 


* " The various termldatlons of thtf fame word, whe- 
" ther verb or noun» are always conceived to be more 
intimately conne£(ed with the term which they ferve to 
letigth^n> than the additional, detached, and iu them- 
" felv^s iniigniiicant particles, which we are obliged to 
'* employ as connectives to our fignificant words. Our 
** method gives almofl the fame expofure to the one as to 
" the other, making the figniticant parts, and the infigni*' 
** ficant, equally conspicuous; theirs, much oftener finks, 
'* as it were, the former into the latter, at once preferv- 
^* ing their u(e, and hiding their weaknefs. Our modern 
*' Languages may, in this refpefl, be compared to the art of 
** the carpenter in its rudeft date ; when the union of the 
*< materials, employed by the artifan, could be efl«£led only 
*< by the Aelp of thofe external and coarfe implements^ 
pins« nails, and cramps. The antient Languages re- 
femble the fame art in its mod improved (late, after the 
^ invention of dovetail joints, grooves, and mortices j 
^* vrhen thus all the principal junQions are effe^ed^ by 
** formings properly, the extremities^ or terminations, of 
^* the pieces to be joined. For, by means of thefe, the 

O 2 *' union 




L E c T, Pronouns arc the clafs of words moft nearW 
vjii. , , ^ 

related to fubftantive nouns s being, as the 
name imports, reprefentatives, or fubftitutes, 
of nouns. /, tbou^ be, jhe^ and iV, are no other 
than an abridged way of naming the perfons, or 
objeds, with which we have immediate inters 
courfe,or to which we are obliged frequently to 
refer in difcourfc. Accordingly, they are fub- 
]e£t to the fame modifications with fubftantive 
nouns, of number, gender, and cafe. Only, 
with refpeft to gender, we may obfervc^ that 
the pronouns of the firfl: and fccond perfon, as 
they are called, / and thou^ do not appear to 
have had the diminutions of gender given them 
in any Language ; for this plain reafon, that, 
as they always refer to perfons who are prefcnt 
to each other, when they fpeak, their fex muft 
appear, and therefore needs not be marked by 
a mafculine or feminine pronoun. Bur, as the 
third perfon may be abfent^ or unknown, the 
diftinftion of gender there becomes neceflary ; 
and accordingly, in Engliib, it hath all the 
three genders belonging to it| be^Jhe^ it. As 
to cafes ; even thofe Languages which have 
dropped them in fubftantive nouns, fometimes 
retain more of them in pronouns, for the fake 
of the greater readincfs in expreffing relations i 
as pronouns are words of fuch frequent dccur- 


union of the parts is rendered clofer ; ^hile that I>y 
'* which that union is produced, is fcarcely perceiirablc.** 
The Philofophy of Rhetoric, by Dr. CaropbcOlr vol. ii. 
p. 412. 



rence in difcourie. In Engli(b> moft of our ^ ^ c t. 
grammarians hold the perfonal pronouns to 
have two caies> befides the nominative ; a ge- 
nitive, and an accufative, — /, mixe, mei'^tboMi 
ibincy tbee*,—be^ bis, bimi'^wboj is^bofe^ wbom. 

In the firil ftage of Speech, it is probable 
that the places of thofe pronouns were fup- 
plied, by pointing to the objc6l when prcfcnt, 
and naming it when abfent. For one can 
hardly think that pronouns were of early in- 
ypntion^ as they arc words of fuch a particu- 
lar and ^tificfal natgre. /, tbpu, be, //, it is 
tQ be obferveij, are not names pi^culiar to any 
fingle objeft, but fo very genieral, that they 
may be applied ta all perfons, or obje^3;s, what* 
ever, in certain circumftances. //^. is tjie moft 
general term that can po(^bly be jconceivedj 
as it may^ftand for any one thing in the uni- 
verfe, of which we fpeak. At the fame time^ 
thefe pronoijns have this quality, that, in the 
circumftances in which they arc applied, they 
never denote more than one precifc indivi- 
dual 3 which they afcertain, and fpecify, much 
in the fame manner as is done by the article. 
So that pronouns are, at once, the moft gfsne* 
ral, and the moft -particular words in L*an? 
guage. They are commonly the rpoft irregu- 
lar and trpublefome words to the learner, in the 
Grammar of all tongues ; as being the wcird$ 
moft in common ufe, and fubjefted thereby tQ 
the greateft varieties'. 

O 3 Adjec-^ 


1- E c T. Adjectives, or terms of quality, fuch a^s 
great i little^ blacky white y ycurs, ours^ arc th« 
plaineft and fimpleft of all that clafs of ivord*^ 
vfhich are termed attributive. They arc found 
io all Languages i and, in all Languages, 
muft have been very early invented \ as objefts 
could not be diftinguifhed from one another, 
nor any intercourfe be carried on concerning 
them, till once names were given to their dif- 
ferent qualities, 

r HAVE nothing to obferve in relation to 
them, except that fingularity which attends 
them in the Greek and Latin, of having the 
fame form given them with fubftantive nouns \ 
being declined, like them, by cafes, and fub- 
jc6led to the like diftinftions of number and 
gender. Hence it has happened, that gram- 
ms^-ians have made them to belong ttf the fame 
part of Speech, and divided the noun into 
fubftantive and adjeftive ; an arrangement, 
founded more on attention to the external 
form of words, than to their nature and force. 
For adjetEtives, or terms of quality, have 
*rK)t, by their nature, the leaft itfemblance to 
fubftantive nouns, as they never exprcfs any 
thing which can poffibly fubfift by itfclf; 
which is the very eflence of the fubftantive 
houn. They are, indeed, more a-kin to verbs, 

^ which, like them, exprefs the attribute of fome 

^ fubftance. 

8 It 


* It may, *t firft view, appeatr fom-ewhat odd l- e c t. 
and fantaftic, that adjcftives fhould> in thcfe ^' ' 
anticnt Languages, have affumed fo much the 
form of fubftantivcs j fince neither number, 
nor gender, nOr cafes, nor relations^ have any 
thing to do, in a proper fenfe, with mere qua-^ 
liti^s, fuch as, gooii or grea^^ Jeft or hard. And 
yet bonm^ and. magnus% and tanei^ have their 
Angular and plural, their mafculine and femir 
nine, their genitives and datives, like any of 
the names of fubftances, or perfons. But this 
can be accounted for, from the genius of thofe 
Tongues, They avoided, as much as poffible, 
confidering qualities feparately, or in the ab- 
ftraft. They made them a part, or append- 
^gc> of the fubftance which they ferved to dif- 
tinguilh ; they made the adjeftive depend on 
its fubftantive, and refemble it in termination, 
in number, and gender, in order that the two 
might coalefce the more intimately, and be 
joined in the form of expreffion, as they were 
in the nature of things. The liberty of tranf- 
pofition, too, which thofe Languages indulged, 
required fuch a method as this to be followed. 
For, allowing the related words of a fentence 
to be placed at a diftanee from each other, it 
required the relation of adjeftives to their pro- 
per fubftantives tq be pointed out, by fuch 
fimilar circumftances of form and termination, 
as, according to the grammatical ftyle, Ihould 
^QW their concordance. When I fay, in 

Q 4 Englifh, 



L E c T. Englifli> the " Beautiful wife of a brave maii/* 
the juxtapofitian of the words prevents all 
ambiguity. But when I fay, ip Latin, " For-- 
^' mofa fortis virl uxor -,*' it is only the agree- 
ment, in gender, number, and cafe, of. the 
adjedive " formoja^' which is the firft word 
of the fentence, with the fubftantive ^^ wcory** 
which is the laft word^ that declares thti 



% t 



A ^ 



F the whole clafs of words that are called l i c t- 

■ ....-. \x 

attributive, indeed, of all the parts of 

Speech^ the moft complex, by far, is the verb* 
\i is chiefly in this part of Speech, that the 
fubtile and profound metaphyfic of Language 
appears J and, therefore, in examining the 
iiature and different variations of the verb, 
there might be i-oom for ample difcuflion* But 
^s I am fenfible that fuch grammatical dif- 
^uilionS:^ when tjiey are purfued fai-, become 
intricate and obfcure, I ftiall avoid dwelling 
any longer on thjs fubjeft^ than fecms abfo-^ 
Jutcly neceflary, 

Th:^ verb Js fo far of the fame ijature with the 
^djeftivei that itexprelfes, like it, an attribute, 
or property, of fome perfon or thing. But it does 
nio^e than this. For, in all verbs, in every Lan- 
guage, there are no lefs than three things im- 
plied at once if the attribut9 of fomcfubftantivc^ 


I E c T. an affirmation concerning that attribute, and 
liiiic Xixus,.j»hcn I fay, *' the fun Ihineth^" 
Ihining, is the attribute afcribcd to the fun; 
the prefent time is marked ; and an affirmation 
is included, that this property of Ihining be- 
longs, at that time, to the fun. The partici- 
ple, ** (hining," is merely an adjeftive, which 
denotes an attribute, or property, and alfoex- 
preflcs time J but carries no affirmation. The 
infinitive mood, ** to ihine," may be called 
the name of the verb; it carries neither time 
nor affirmation, but fimply expreffes that at- 
tribute, adlion, or ftate of things, which is to 
be the fubje<5k of the other moods and tenfcs. 
Hence the infinitive often carries the refem- 
blance of a fubftantive noun ; and, bpth in 
Eiiglifil and Latin, is fometime$ conftrufted 
as fuch. As, ^* Scire tuum nihil eft.** ** Pulcc 
"et decorum eft pro patria mori.*' And, in 
Ehglilh, in the fame manner : " To i«frite well 
*' is difficult J to fpeak eloquently is ftill n)or0 
*• difficult.** But as, through all the other 
'tenfes an<^ moO^s, the affirmation runs, and 
is eflential to them> " the fun Ibineth, waa 
^* (hining, ' ihone, will (hine, " would have" 
V flione," &c. the affirmation feems to be 
that which chiefly diftinguilhes the verb from 
the other parrs of Speech, and gives ^t its moft 
confpicuous power. Hence there can be no 
fentence, or complete prppofttion, without a 
verb cither expreffed or impli^d^ For^ when- 




ever wc fpcak, wc always mean to aflert^ that L b c r. 
fomedungi&> or is not; and the word which 
carries this afiertion) or affirmation^ is a verb. 
From this fort of eminence belonging to it, 
this part of Speech hath received its camcj 
verb, from the Latin, verbum^ or tbi wordy by 
way of diftinftiom 

Verbs, therefore, from their importance 
and neceflity in Speech, muft have been coeval 
with men's firft attempts towards the foraia- 
tion of Language : Though, indeed, it muft, 
havcljcen the work of long time, to rear them 
up to that accurate and complex ftrufture 
which they now po'flcfs. It feems very pro-* 
|>able, as Dr. Smith hath fuggefted^ that the 
radical verb, or the firft form of it, in mo|l 
languages, would be, what wc now call, thp 
Imperfonal Verb. ** It rains; it thunders j 
^* it is light J it is agreeable j" and the like i 
us thk is the very fimpleft form of tht vqrb, 
aad merely affirmsithc cxiftencc of an twenty 
or vi£ aftate of things* By degrees, after 
pronouns iwere invented, fuch verbs becan>e 
perfonal, and were branched out into all th^ 
variety of tenfes.and nooods. 

Thb ixrnfes of the verb are contrived ta 
imply ithe fcveral' diftin^ions of time. Of 
fhcfe i muft fakefoitie notice, in order to (bow 
the admirable accuracy with which Language 
|s conftru^ed. Wc think, coni»iottly, of no 
^ more 



I* ^c T. more than the three great divtfions of time> intt> 
the paft> the prefent, and the future : and we 
might imagine^ that if verbs had been fo con^^ 
trivcd, as fimply to exprcft thefe, no more 
was needfuK But language proceeds with 
muph greater fubtilty. It fpJits time into its 
feveral moments. It confiders time as neveF 
{landing ftil]> but always flowing; things pafi:> 
as more or Icfs pcrfeftly completed; apd things 
future^ as more or lefs remote^ by diflFerent 
gradations. Hence the great variety of tenfes 
in moft Tongues. 

* The prefent may/ indeed, be always ccmi^ 
fidered as one indivisible pdiDt^ fufceptible of 
no variety. " I write, or i am writing ^ 
^^ /erih/* But it is not fo^ Wi<h the paft. 
There is no Language fo poor, but it bath 
two or three tenfes to eitpfefs the Varieties of 
it. Durs hath no fewei^thin foii*;^ t. A paft 
adbion may be confidered s^s lefc^ uf^fini&ed ; 
which makes the imperfeA tenfe, " I was' 
*^ ^nx^n^i JcribehamJ* 2. As juft^nowfihifli^ 
ed. This makes the proper perfed tenfc, 
which, in Englifli, is always exprefled by the 
help of the auxiliary verb, *f I have written.'*' 
3. It may be confidered as finifhed fome time 
agoi thrpaisticKiJar lime left indefinite. : ^ I 
*« wrot^i/t^n^jV whicfh mtqr eitiier iigpifj^ 
*' I wrote yefterday, or: I wrote a , twelvemomh 
*' ago.'* .This is what graoimarians call ait 
aorift , or indefiaite palt. 4. It may be coa^ 
V. I (idered 


fictered ai finifti«d before tbmething elfci which ?• e c r. 
is alft>* paft*- This is the plufquamperfeft. ** I 
^< ' 4i^a <eirrittenr i Jcripferam. I had written be- 
**\'&at I received his letter." 

<- ' • • r • . 4. ? 

. H»iLfi we obfcrve, with fome pleafure, that 
t9€ have an advantage over the (^atins, who 
hiive^only three' varieties upon the paft time* 
They have no proper pcrfeft tenfe, ,or one 
:whic^ diftitigqiQies aa a&ion juft now finilh^dj 
from an adion chat was fini-flied foii^e time 
ago* In both thefe cafes, they muft fay^ 
*' fi^i$fi'** Though there be a manifeft dif- 
ference in the tenfes, which our Language ex* 
prei&Sj by this variatioa, ** I have written," 
meanings I have juft now finiihed writing ; 
j3U>dj . " I wrote," meaning at : fame (orm^r 
tMplie,' finoe which, other things have, inters 
vened.i . This difference die Romans have no 
tenf^ to ei^prefs ; and^ riierefore^ can only da 
it by a circumlocution^ 

Th« chief varieties in the future time are 
two; a fiajple or indefinite future: "J fhajl 
^' viffitt ; /criiam :'' And a future, relating to 
foxncshing elfe, which i^ alfo future. " I (hall 
" have wriijtjl^n i /crip/ero.'' I (hall have writ- 
ten before, he arrives*. .J 

• Qn the tenfiss of verbs, Mr. Harris's H?rme» may bfi 
oonfttited, by Aich a^deilre to Tee them rcrut[nized with me- 
taphyfical accuracy; and alfo, the Treatife on the Origia 
jmd Pregrcfs' of Language, Vol. ii. p. 125. 


fta6 StRtrCTITRE OP Lan^WAgb: 

Besides tenfes, or the power of expreHin^ 
time, verbs admit the diftindlion of Voices, a^ 
they are called, the a£livc and tht paflive ; ac- 
cording as the affirmation rtfpe&s foitiething 
that is donej or Ibmcthing that is fufFcred j 
f* I love, or I am loved*" They admit al(b 
the diftinftion df moods, ivhich are defigned 
to exprefs the affirmation, whethef aftivc of 
{)afl[ive, under different forms. The indica- 
tive mood, for inftancej fimply declares a pro- 
pofition, ** r write; I have written i** the 
imperative requires, commands, threatens^ 
** write thoU ; let him write.'* The fub.tCJflC- 
tivc exprefles the propofition' under the form 
of a condition, or in fubordinatibn to forine 
tither thing, to which a reference is mide, ^^1 
•* might write, L could write,- I fhould write^ 
^^ if the cjlfe were fo and fo." This nrtannfef 
of cxprefling an affirmation^ under fo many 
different forms, together alfo with the difttncJ^ 
tion of the three perfons, /, thouy and be^ con* 
ftitutes what is called, the conjugation of yerbsj 
which makes fo great a part of the grammar 
of all Languages. 

It now clearly appears, as I befofe obferved, 
that, of all tlie parts of Speech, verbs are, by 
far, the nioft artificial a[nd complex. Confider 
only, how many things are denoted by this 
firtgle Latin word, <* amavijem, 1 would have 
** loved*" Firft, ^he perfon who fpeaks. 

STRUCTURE dp language: toy 

** I." Secondly, An attribute, or aftion of l e cx 
that perfon, ^Moving." Thirdly, An affirma- 
tion concerning that aftion. Fourthly^ The 
paft time denoted in that affirmation, *^ have 
** loved :" and, Fifthly, A condition on which 
the a£kion is fufpended, " would have loved**' 
It appears curious and remarkabk, that words 
of this complex import, and with more or lefc 
of this artificial ftrufture, are to be found, as 
far as wc know, in all Languages of the world* 

Indeed, the form of conjugation, or the 
manner of exprefling all thefe varieties in the 
verb^ differs greatly in different Tongues. 
Conjugation is efteemed moft perfeft in thofe 
Languages, which, by varying either the ter- 
mination or the initial fyllable of the verb> 
cxprefs the greateft number of important cir- 
cumilances, without the help of auxiliary 
words. In the Oriental Tongues, the verbs 
are faid to have few tenfes, or expreffions of 
time J but then their moods are fo contrived^ 
as to exprefs a great variety of circumftances 
and relations. In the Hebrew, for inftance, 
they fay, in one word, without the help of any 
auxiliary, not only " I have taught," but, " I 
*' have taught exaftly, or often j I have been 
" commanded to teach ; I have taught my- 
** felf.*' The Greckj which is the mofl per- 
k€k of all the known Tongues, is very regular 
and complete in^ all the tenfes and moods. 




L E c T. The Latin is formed on the fame model,. bOt 
more imperfeft j efpecially in the paflive voice^ 
which forms moft of the tenfes by the help of 
the auxiliary ^^/«»i/' 


In all the iboderri European Tongues, cori-» 
jugation is very defeAive. They admit few 
varieties in the termination of the verb itfelf; 
but have almoft conftant r^courfe t6 their 
auxiliary verbs, throughout all the moods arid 
tenfes, both aftive and paffive. Language 
has undergone a change in conjugation, pcr- 
fedUy fimilar to that which^ I Ihowcd in the 
laft Lcdlure, it underwent with refpeft to de- 
clenfion. As prepofitions, prefixed to the 
noun, fuperfedcd the ufe of cafes ; fo the 
two great auxiliary verbs, to have^ and to he^ 
with thofe other auxiliaries which we ufe in 
Englilh, do^jbally will^ may, and can, prefixed 
to the participle, fuperfede, in a great mea- 
fure, the different terminations of moods 
and tenfes, which formed the antient conju- 

The alteration, in both cafes, was owing 
to the fame caufe, and will be eafily tinder- 
flood, from reflefting on what was formerly 
obfcrved. The auxiliary verbs are. like pre- 
pofitions, words of a very general and abftratSt 
nature. They imply the different ;modifica- 
.tioas qf fimple exiftence^ ^onfidered alpne, 


STfelJCtUkfe 5> LANGUAGfi. fo^ 

and without reference to any particular thing, t s c T» 
. In the e^rly ftate of Speechj the import of 
thtm would be incorporated ^i^ith every parti*- 
cular verb in its tenfes and moods> long be* 
fore words were invented for denoting fuch 
abftraA conceptions of exifteiice, alone, and 
by themfel ves. But after thofe auxiliary verbs ^ 
came, in the progrefs bf Language^ to be in- 
vented and known, and to have tenfes and 
iti6od& givftn to them like othet Verbs j it was 
found, that as they Carried in theii* nature the 
force of thdt aflSrmatibh Which diftinguifhea 
th6 verb, they might, by bttng joined With 
the participle which gives the mcahing of the 
verb, fupply the place of moft of the moods 
and tenfes. Hence, as the modern Tongues 
began to rife out of the ruins of the antient, 
this method eftabliflied itfelf in the new forma- 
iioh of Speech. Such words, for inftance ; 
as, am, was, have, Jhall, being once familiar, 
it appeared more eafy to apply thefe to any 
verb whatever ; a^, / am loved \ I was lotted i 
I have ioted ^ than to remember that variety 
of terminations which were requifite in conju- 
gating the antient verbs, amor; a^abar, amavi, 
&€. Two or thre varieties only, in the ter- 
mination of the verb, were retained, as, love, 
li^ed, kving; and all the reft were dropt. 
'the confequence, however, of this praftice, 
was the fame as that of abolifhing declenfioi^s. 
It rendered Language more Ample and eafy 
Vol, It P itt 


L E c T. in its ftrufturej but withal, more prolix^ 
and lefs graceful. This ftnifhes all that feetned 
moft neceffary to be obfcrvcd with refpeft to 

The refnaining parts of Speech^, which are 
called the indeclinable partsy or that adoiit of 
no variations, will noe detain us long. 


Adverbs arc the ftrft that occur. Thefe 
form a very numerous clafs of words in evcBy 
]Language, reducible, in general, to the head 
of attributives > jfs they ferve to modify^ or. to 
denote fome circumftance of anr adton, or of a 
(jualrty, relative to its time, place, order, de- 
gree, and the other properties of it, which we 
have occafion to fpecify. They are, for the moft 
part, no more than an abridged mode of Speech, 
cxprefling, by one word, what might, by a cir- 
cumlocution, be refolved into two or more 


"Words belonging to the other parts of Speech^ 
'* Exceedingly," for inftance, is the fame as,- 
'^ in a high degree j" "bravely," the fame 
as, ** wi-th bravery or valour j". *^ here," the 
fame as, " in this place j" " often, and fel- 
" dom," the fame as, *' for many, and for 
^ *^ few times •/' and fo of the reft. Hcnce^ 
adverbs may be conceived as of lefs neceffity^ 
and of later introdudion into the fyftem of 
Speech, than mapy other clafles of M^ords; 
»ndy accordingly, the g^eat body of them are 






derived from other words formerly eftabliflied l e c t. 
ih the Language. 

, Pabpositions and conjun&h)rts, ^re Wordd 
moror effential to difcourfe than the greateft' 
part rf adverbs. They form that clafs of 
words, called Gonneftives, without whidi ' 
there could be no Language s ferving to ex« 
prefs thfe relations which things beal- to one 
anotheri their mutual influence, dependenciesi 
and coherence; thereby joining-words together 
iato' intelligible and fignificant proportions* 
Conjunftions are generally employed for coh- 
nc&ihg fcntences, or members of fentlences j 
as, nnd^ hec(puje^ although^ and the like. Pre- 
pofitions are employed for connefting wiordsi 
by Ihowing the relation which one fubftantive 
noun bears to another; as, ofy fromy ia, dhoye^ 
ielowy &CC . Of the force of thefc I had bcca- 
fionto fpeak before, when treating of the cafes 
and declenfions of fubft^ntive noun's. 

It is abundantly evident, that all.thcfe Con-* 
heftive particles miift be of the greateft ufc in 
Speech; feeing they point oiit the relations 
and tranfitions by which the mind paffcs from 
one idea to another. They are the founda* 
tion.of all reafoning, which is no other thing 
than the conneftion of thoughts. And, there-* 
fore, though among barbarous nations, and in 
the rude uncivilifed ages of the world, the 

Pa ftock 


^ *ix ^* ^^^^ ^^ ^^^^^ words might be fmallj it mirfl 
always have increafed^ as mankind advanced 
in the arts of teafoning and refie£tion* The 
more that any nation is improved by fcience^ 
and the more pe^fed their language beeomesi 
iR^e may naturally expeA, that it will abound 
more with conne£^ive pafticles ^ txprefling re-^ 
lations of things^ anid tranfttions of thought^ 
which had efcaped a groffcr view. Accord- 
ingly, no Tongue is fo full of them as thtf 
Greeks ii) confequence of the acute and fub- 
tile genius of that refined people. In every 
Langu^ge^ much of the beauty and ftrength 
of it depends on the proper ufe of eonjunc* 
tioris, prepofitions, and thofe relative pro* 
noupsi which alfq ftrre the fame ^urpofe of 
tonnefting the different parts of difcourfe. It 
is the right, or wrong management of thcfci 
which chiefly makes difcourfe appear firm 
and compadedi or disjointed and loofe ^ which, 
carries it on in its progrefs with a fmaoth and 
even pace, or renders its march irregular and 

I SHAtt dwell no longer On the general con- 
ftruftion of C^nguage« Allow me, only^ be- 
fore I difiTfiifs the fubjedi:, to obfcrve, that dry 
and intricate as it may feem to fome, k is^ 
however, of grea.t importance, and very nearly 
connefted with, the philofophy. of the huawn 
mind. ?or, if §pQech bf the vehicle, or inter4i 





jEircccr of tlie conceptions of our noinds, an *• ^,x ^* 
examination of its Strufture and Progrcfs can- 
pot but unfold many (hings concerning the na- 
ture and progreis of pur conceptions theni- 
ielves^ and the operations of our faculties ; a 
iubjefi; that is always inftrudive to man. 
f^ Nequis," fays QuindiUan^ an author of 
excellent judgment, *' ne qu k t anquam parva 
ff faftidiat grammatices elementa. Non quif- 
^^ magnae fit operas confonantes a yocalibuf 
*' difcernere, eafque in femivocalium nume- 

rum, mutarunyque partiri, fed quia interi- 

ora velut facri hujus adeufntibus, apparebic 
^^ multa rerum fubtilitai^, quss non mode 
<^ acuere ingenia puerilia, fed e^ercere altifli^ 

mam quo^ue eruditionem ac fcieritiaim 

poffit*." 1.4. 




\jRT us now come nearer to our own Lan-r 
guage. ' In this, and the preceding Le6ture^ 
(bme obfervations have already been made on 
}ts Scryftuf e. &gt it its proper that we fiiould 

^ <' Lat ao AftD defpifb, as inconfiderable^ the i^leinisritf 
f< of grsunmsM** becaufe it may feem to him a mattet of 
^f fmall confequence, to ihow the dt#iii6tioii betiveea- 
<'>oweIs and cOnfonants, and to divide the latter into 
liq«ld» and motcsw Bat they who penetrate into- th^ 
iiwermoft mru of this* temple of fcience,. wiH there dif^ 
cover fiich refinement and fubtility of mattier, a6i«ii0f 
*' only proper to fharpen tHe nnderf^ndings of yoang men, 
*f but fttfBcient to give exercife for the moft profound 
V knoMledge and erudition.'' 



L E c T. be a little xnQW particular in the «xaininaciott 

. The Language which is, at prcfent, fpoken 
throughout Great . Britain, is neither the an- 
tient primitive Speech of the ifland, nor de- 
rived -froni it; but is altogether of foreign 
Qrigia* The Language of the firfl: inhabitants 
q( our ifland, beyond doubt, was the Celtic, 
or Gaelic, common to them with Gaul ; from 
which country, it appears, by many circum- 
ftances, that Great Britain was peopled. This 

. Celtic Tongue, which is faid to be very expref- 
five, and copious^ and is, probably, one of the 
moft antient Languages in the world, obtained 

^ once in moft of the weftern regions of Europe. 
It was the Language of Gaul, of Great Britain, 
of Ireland, and, very probably, of Spain alfo; 
till, in the courfe of thofe, revolutions, which, 

. by means of the conquefts, firft, of the Ro- 
mans, and afterwards, of the northern nations, 
tbanged the gavernnpent, fpeechy and, in a 
manner, the whole face of Europe, this 
Tongue was' gradually obliterated; and now 
fubfifts only in the mountains of Wales, in the 
Highlands of Scotland, -and among the wild 
Iji(h, For the Irilh, the Welch^ and the Erfe, 
are no other than different diakfts of the fame 
Tongue, the antiehf Celtic. 



This, then, was tbe Language of the pri- l e c t. 
mitive Britons, the firft inhabitants, that we 
know of, in our idand; and continued fo till 
the arrival of the Sa:ft)ns in England, in the 
year of our Lord 450; who, having con- 
quered the Britons, did not intermix- with 
them, but expelled them from their habita- 
tions, and drove them, together with their 
JLanguage, into the mountains of Wales. The 
Saxons were one of thofe northern nations thai: 
over-ran Europe; and their Tongue, a dialeft 
of the Gothic or Teutonic, altogether diftinft 
from the Celtic, laid the foundation of the 
•prefent Englifli Tongue. With fome interr 
mixture of Danifhi a Language, probably, 
from the fame root with the Saxon, it conti- 
nued to be fpoken throughout the fouthern^ 
part of the Idand, till the time of William the 
Conqueror. He introduced his Norman or 
French as the Language of the court, which 
made a confiderable change in the Speech of 
the nation ; and the Englifli which was fpoken 
afterwards, and continues to be fpoken now, 
is a mixture of the antient S«on, and this 
Norrnan French, together with fuch new and 
foreign words as comrnerce and learning have, 
inprogrefs of time, gradually^ introduced^V^^^^ 

T^mTfiftory of the Englifli Language can, ^ 
in this manner, be clearly traced. The Lan- 
guage fpoken in the low countries of Scorfand, 

P ^ i^ 


^ ^ix ^* is now, aod h^s been for many eenturics, no 
other tha,n- a, dialed^ pf ihf Englifli. How» 
indeed, or by what ft?ps, the antient Celti<? 
Tongue came to be b^nifhed from the Low 
Country in Scotland, and to make its retreat 
'^nto the I^i^hland^ and Iflands, cannot be fo 
well pointed out| as how the like revolution 
was brought about in England. Whether tho 
fouthernmofl pa^rt of Scotland was once fub« 
je£t to the Saxons, and formed a part of the 
kingdom of Northumberland j or, whether, 
the gr^a^t number of Englifli exiles that re- 
treated into Scotland, upon the Norman con* 
quefl:, and upon other occafions, introduced 
into that country their own Language, which 
afterwards, by (he mutual intercourfe of thf 
\vfo nations, prevailed over the Celtic, are 
uncqrta^n and contefted points, the difcuQion 
of which would lead us too far from our 

From what has been faid, it appears, thai 
(he Teutonic dialed is the bafis of our prefent 
Speech. It has been imported among us in 
three different forms, the Saxc n, the Panifh, 
and the Norman ; all which have mingled 
together in our Language. A very great 
number of our words too, are plainly derived 
from the Latiiu Thefe> we had not direfUy 
from the Latin, but mod of them, it is pro« 
bable^ entered into our Tongue through the 
S channel 


chs^nn^I of that Norman French, which Wil* 
liam the Conqueror introduced. For, as the 
Romans had long been in full poflefSon of 
Gaul, the Language fpoken in that country, 
when it was invaded by the Franks and Nor* 
mans, was a fort of corrupted Latin, mingled 
with Celtic, to which was given the name of 
Romanlhe : and as the Franks and Normans 
did not, like the Saxons in England, expel 
the inhabitants, but> after their vidories, 
JDingled with them a the Language of ithe 
country became a compound of the Teutonic 
dkleft imported by thefe conquerors, and of 
the former corrupted Latin. Hence, the 
French Language has always continued to 
have a very confiderable affinity with the La- 
tin; and hence, a great number of words of 
Latin origin, which were in ufe among the 
Normans in France, were introduced into ouc 
Tongue at the conqueftj jto which,, indeedj 
majny have fince been added, direftly from the 
jLatin, in confeqgence of the great diffufion of 
Roman literature throughout all Europe* 

From the influx of fo many ftreams, from 
the jundlion of fo many diffinfiilar parts, it na-? 
turally follows, that the Englrih, like every 
compounded Language, muft needs be fome- 
what irregular. We cannot cxpeft frolft it 
that correfpondence of parts, that complete 
analogy in jftrudlure, which ipay be found 





in thofe fimplcr Languages, which have been 
formed in a manner within themfelves^^ and 
bailc on one foundation. Hence, as I before 
ihowed, it has but fmall remains of conjuga- 
tion or declenfion j and its fyntax is narrow, 
as there are few marks in the words themfelves 
that can fliow their relation to each other, or, 
in the grammatical ftyle, point out either their 
concordance, or their government, in the feq- 
tence. Our words having been brought to us 
from feveral different regions, ftraggle, if we 
may fo fpeak, afunder from each otYier ^ and 
do not coalefce fo naturally in the ftrufture of 
a fehtence, as the words in the Greek apd Rq-? 
pian Tongues. 

But thefe difadvantages, if they be fuchj^ 
of a compound Language, are balanced .by 
other advantages that attend itj particularly^, 
by the number* and variety of words with 
w^iich fuch a Language is likely to be en- 
riched. Few Languages are, in fa£b, more 
copious than the Ehglifh. In all grave fub- 
jefts cfpecially, hiftorical, critical, political, 
and moral, no. writer has the leaft reafon to 
complain of the barrennefs of our Tongue. 
The ftudious refleding genius of the people, 
has brought together great (lore of expreflions, 
on ^uch fubjefts, from every quarter. We 
are rich too in the Language of poetry. Our 
poetical' ftyle differs widely fromj profc, not in 



point of numbers only, but in the very words tier. 
ihcmfdvesi which fliows-what a ftock and 
compaf5| of words we have it in our power to 
felcft and cmf)loy, fuited'to thofe different oc- 
cafions. Herein we" arc infinitely fuperior to 
the French, Whofe poetical Language, if it 
were not diftingyiflied by rhyme, would n« 
be known to differ from their ordinary profc^ 

It is chiefly,* indeed, on grave fubje^Sts, and 
with refpeA to the ftronger emotions of the 
mind, that our Language difplays its power 
of cxprcflion. We are faid to have thirty 
word?, at leaft, for denpting all the varieties 
of the paffion of anger *i ^^ But, in d^fcribing 
the more delicate femimcnts and emotions, 
our Tongue is not fo fertile* It muft be con- 
feffed, that the French 'Language far furpaffcs 
ours, in eacprefling the nicer Ihades of chara6teri 
cfpecially thofe varieties of mannef, tefnper, 
aod behaviour, which are difpkycd in our fo- 
cial intercourfe with one another. Let any 
one attejnpt to translate, into Englifli, only 
a few pages of one of Marivaux's Novels, and 
he will jfoon be fenfible of our deficiency of 

. * Anger, wrath, paiUon, rage, fury, outrage, fiercenefs, 
iharpnefs, animoilty, choler, r^fentment, heat, hearts 
burning ; to fi^me, florm, inflame, be incenfed ; to vei^, 
Idnd4e4 irritate, enrage, cxafperate, provoke, fret 5 to be 
fsllen, hafty, hot, rough, Tour, peevifh, &c. 

Preface to Grcennrood's Grammar. 

I cJ^preflion 


i E c T. cxpreflian on Aefe fubjcfts. Indeed^ no Lan-9 
guage is fo copious as the French for whatever 
lis delicatCj gay, and amufing. It is, perhaps^ 
the happieft language for converfationi in th< 
known world i but, on the highei! fubjeSs of 
compofition> the Englifl* may he juftly efbcem* 
ed to excel it confiderably. 

Language is generally underftood to rc-» 
ceive its predominant tindure from thr na-^ 
fional charader of the people who fpeak iu 
We oQuft not, indeed, expe£):, that it will csxry 
an exaft and full impreffion of their genius 
and manners ; fbr> among all nations, the 
eri^nal ftock of words which they receiTed 
from their aoceftors, remain as the fbundattoq 
of their Speech throughouc many ages, while 
their manners undergo, perhaps, very great 
alterations* National character will,, however^ 
always have fome perceptible influence on the 
turn of Language s. and the gaiety and vi^a* 
city of the French, and the gravity and 
thoughtfulncfs of the Engliflb, are fufficicndj' 
impreffcd on their refpedive Tongues. 

From the genius of our Language^ and the 
charafter of thofe who fpeak it, it may be ex* 
peftcd to have ftrength and energy. It is, 
indeed, naturally prolix ; owing to, the great, 
number of particles and auxiliary verbs whiclj 
we arc pbliged conftantly to employ; and this 


THE ENfeLlsti LAkGUAGfi. til 

prolixity muft, in fomc degree, ciiffeeble it; t e c t. 
We feldom can ixprefs fo much hj one word 
as was done by the verbs, and by the nouns, 
in the Greek and Roman Languages. Our 
ftyle is lefs compafts our conceptions being 
^read out among more words, .anc^ fpHt, aii 
it were, into more parts, make a fainter im- 
prcflion when we utter them. Notwithftanding 
this dcfcA, by our abounding in, terms for ex- 
' preffing all the ftrong emotions of the mind, 
and by the liberty which we enjoy, in a greater 
; degree than moft nations, of compounding 
I words, our Language may be efteemed to 
I jpoflefs confiderable force of cxpreflion ; com- 
paratively, at leaflr, with the other modern 
Tongues, though much below the antient. The 
Style o^ Milton alone, both in poetry and 
I jprofcj, is a fufficicnt proof, that the Englifh 
j Tongue is far from being deftitutc of nerves 
^ and energy. 

' The flexibility of a Language, or its power 

bf accommodation to different ftyles and man* 
hers, lb as to be either grave and ftrong, or 
eafy and flowing, or tender and gentle, or 
pompous and magnificent, as occafions require^ 
or as an author's genius prompts, is a qualitjt 
of great importance in (peaking and writing* 
It fecm& to depend upon three things ; the 
cepioulhefs of a Language j the different ar- 
raogements of which its words are fufceptiblcf 



and the variety and beauty of the found of thofe 
words» {o as to correfpond to many different 
fubjcfts. Never did any.Toiigue pofTefs this 
quality fo eminently as the Greeks which every 
writer of genius Could fo mould, as to make 
the ftyle pcrFcftly cxprcflivfe of his own. manner 
and peculiar turn* It had all the three requi- 
iites, which I have mentioned, as neceflary for 
this purpofe^ It joined to thcfe the graceful 
variety of its different dialefts j and thereby 
readily affumed ev^ry fort of charader whic^ 
an author could wiih, from the mod: fimple 
knd mofl familiar, up to the mod majeftic* 
*rhe Latin, though a very beautiful ](^anguage^ 
is inferior, in this rcfpcft, to the Greek. It has 
more of a fixed character of ftatelinefs and 
gravity. It is always firm and mafculine in 
the tehor of its found i and is fupported by a 
certain fenatorial dignity, of which it is dif- 
ficult for a writer to divefl it wholly, on any 
occafion. Among the modern Tongues, the 
Italiah pefTefTes a^reat deal more of this flexi- 
bility than the French. By its copioufnefs. 
Its freedom of arrangement^ and the great 
beauty and harmony of its founds, it fuits itfclf 
very happily to moft fubjedts, eithcl* in profe or 
in poetry } is capable of the auguft and the 
ftroiig, as well as the tender ; and feems to be^ 
on the whole, the moft perfeft of all the modern 
fdialefts which have arifen out of thcTuins of 
ithe .ahtient. Our own Language, though 





bot equal to the Italian in flexibility, yet -Is t E c t, 
not deftitute of a confiderable degree of this '^' 
quality. If any one will confider the divcrfity 
of ftyle which appears in fome of our claflicsj 
that great difference of manner, for inttance, 
which is marked by the Style of Lord Shaftef- 
bury, and that of Dean Swift; he will feCt ia . 
our Tongue, fuch a circle of expreflion, fuch a 
power of accommodation to the different taft* 
of writers^ as redounds not a little to its honoun 

What the Englifti has been moft taxed with^ 
is its deficiency in harmony of found. But 
though every native is apt to be partial to the 
founds of his own Language> and may, there-^ 
forej be fufpe<3:ed of not being a fair judge 
in this point ; yet, I imagine, there ar« 
evident grounds on which it may be fhown, 
that thiis charge againft our Tongue has been 
carried top far. The melody of our vcrfifica- 
tion, its power of fupporting poetical num-^ 
bfirs, without any, affiftance from rhyme^ isi 
alone a fufiicient proof that oui* Language i^ 
far from being unmufical. Our vcrfe is,, after 
the Italian^ the mod diverfified and harmoni«i 
ous of any of the modern dialefts'j unqueftion- 
ably. far beyond the French verfe, in varietyi 
fwectnefsr, and melody. Mr. Sheridan haa 
fliown, in his Leftures, that we abound more 
in vowel and diphthong founds, than moil 
Languages i and thefe tpo^ fo divided into 



long and lhort> as to afford a proper diverfity irt 
the quantity of our fyllables* Our confonants, 
he obferves, which appear fo crowded to the ey^ 
on paper, often form combinations not difagrcc- 
able to the car in pronouncing; and> in p*ticu- 
lar, the objeftion which has been made to th6 
frequent recurrence of the hifllng confonant s 
in our Language, is unjuft and ill-founded. 
For, it has not been attended tOj that very 
commonly, and in the final fyHables efpecially, 
this letter lofes /altogether the hilling founds 
and i^ transformed into a z, which is one of 
the founds on which the ear refts with pleafupe j^ 
tts in basy ibefe^ thoje^ lo'VeSy bears, and innu- 
merable more, where, though the letter s be 
t'etained in writing, it has really the power of 
ist, not 6f the common j. 

AtTZK all, however, it muft bef adnfiitted, 
that fmoothnefs, or beauty of found, is not 
tone of the diftinguifhing properties of the 
Englifh Tongue. Though not incapable of 
h^ing fornoed into mtlodious arrangenrentSj 
jct ftrength and expreffivenefs, more than 
grace, form its charafter. We incline, in ge* 
fieral, to a fhort pronunciation of our words, and 
^>ave ihortcned the quantity of moft of thofc 
which we borrow from the Latin, as oratot^ 
^eSlacle, theatre, liberty, and fuch like. Agree* 
tfble to this, is a remarkable peculiarity of Eng^ 
Hfli pronunciation> the throwing, the accent 
iartber back, that is^ nearer the beginning of 



THE EN<}ttStt LANGUAGE. 215 

tbe word, than is done by any other nation. 1- tc r. 
In Greek and Latin, no word is accented far- 
ther back than the third lyllable from the end, 
or what is called the antepenult. But, in 
Engli(h> we have many words accented on the 
fourth, fome on the fifth fyllable from the end, 
as, mimorabley conveniency, dmiulatoryy pro^ 
fitabknefs. The general effcft of this praftice 
of haftening the accent, or placing it fo near 
the beginning of a word, ia to give a brifk 
and a fpirited, but at the fame time a rapid 
and hurried, and not very'mufical, tone to 
the whole pronunciation of a people. 

Thb Englifh Tongue poflcflcs, undoubt- 
edly, this property) that it is the moft fimple 
in its form and conftruftion, of all the Eu- 
ropean dialeds. It is free from all intricacy 
of cafes, declenfions, moods, and tenfcs. Its 
words arc fubjcft to fewer variations from their 
original form, than thofc of any other Lan- 
guage. Its fubftantives have no difl:in6lion of 
gender, except -what nature has made^ and 
but one variation in cafe. Its adjeftives admit 
of no change at all, except what expreflcs the 
degree of comparifon. Its verbs, inftcad of run- 
ning through all the varieties of antient con- 
jugation, fufFer no more than four or five. 
changes in termination. By the help of a few 
prepofitions and auxiliary verbs, all the our- 
pofcs of figniticaticy in meaning arc accom- 

VoL.L ' Q^ plilhedx 


L E c T. plifliedi while the words, for the mdft part^ 
prefervc their form unchanged* . The difa:d- 
vantages in point of elegance, brevity, and 
force, which follow from this ftruftiare of our 
Language, I have before pointed out. But, 
at the fame time, it muft be admitted, that 
fuch a ftrudture contributes to facility. It ren* 
ders the acquifition of our Language lefs labo^ 
rious, the arrangement of our words more plain 
and obvious, the rules of our fyntax fewer and • 
more fimple, 

I AGREE, indeed, with Dr. Lowth (Preface 
to his Grammar), in thinking that the fimpli- 
city and facility of our Langu^e occafion its 
being frequently written and fpoken with kfs 
accuracy. It was neceffary to ftudy Lan- 
guages, which were of a more complex znd, 
artificial form, with greater care. The marks 
of gender and cafe,, the varieties of conjuga- 
tion and declenfion, the multiplied .rules of 
fyntarX, were all to be attended^ to in Spceclv, 
Hence Language became mpre an objeft of 
art. It was reduced into forms ^ ilandard was 
eftablifhed 5 and any departures from the ftand- 
ard became confpicuous. Whereas, among, 
us, Language is hardly confidered as an ob- 
left of grammatical rule. We take it for 
granted, that a competent (kill in it may be 
acquired without any ftudy; and that, in a 
fyntax fo narrow and confii^d as ours> there 
8* » 



k nothing wbich demands attention. Hence i* e*j: t* 
arifes the .habit of writing in a loofc and in- 
accurate manner;. 

I ADMil', that no gramniatical rules havA 
fufficient authority to controul the .firm and 
qftabliftied ufage of Language. Efl-abliflied 
cuftom^ in fpeaking and writings is the ftand- 
vd to which we muft at laft refort for deter- 
mining every cpntrovertcd poipt in Language 
and Style. But it will not follow from this^ 
tJiat gramniatical rules are fuperfedcd as ufclefs* 
la every Language, which has been in any 
degree cultivated, there prevails a certain 
ftrufture and. analogy of parts, which is un* 
derftood to ^ivc foundation to. the moft reput- 
able ufage of Speech J artd Which, in all cafes^ 
when ufage is loofe or dubious, poflefles con- 
fiderable authority. In every Language, there 
2^x6 rules of fyntax which muft be inviolably 
obferve4 by all whp would either write of 
fpeak with any propfiety^ For fyntax is no 
other than that arrangement of words, in a 
fentence, which renders yhc meaning of each 
word, and the relation of all the words to on^ 
another, moft clear an4 intelligible* 


All the rules of Latin fyntax, it is tfu^j 
cannot be appKed to our. Language. Man^ 
of thcfe rules arpfejfrofn the particular form 
yf their Language, which QGcaGoncd verbs pf 

Oja prcpo* 


L £ c T. prepofitions to govern, fome the gtnitiire, ibme 
the dative, ibme the accufative or ablativ^' 
cafe. But^ abftrafbing from thefe peculiars 
ties,, it is to be always remembered^ that 
the chief and fundamental rules of fyntax are 
common to the Englilh as well as the L»atin 
Tongue f and, indeed, belAng. equally to all' 
Languages » For, in all Languages^ the parts 
which compofe Speech are eflentially the fame ^ 
fubftantives,. adj^edtives, verbs, and connecting 
particles r And wherever thefe parts of Speech 
are found, there are certain neceflary relatione 
among: then^ which regulate their fyntax, or 
ihe place which they ought to poflefs in a feo* 
tence» Thus^, in EngUfbj ya& as much as in 
Latin, th^ adje£tivo mud, by poTition, be 
made to agree with its fubftantive ;. and the 
verb mud agretf with its nominative in perfon 
and number; beca^fe, from the nature of 
things, a word,, which expreflfes either a qua?- 
^ty or an a£tion^ muft correfpond as dofely 
as poftlble with the name of that thing whofe 
quality,, or whofe aftion, k cxpreffes* Two 
or more (ubftantiyes, joined by a copulative, 
muft alw^s require tfcc verbs or pronouns,, 
to which they refct, to be placed in the j^trral 
number ', otherwifey their common relation ta 
thefe verbs or pronouns is not pointed out. 
An adive verb muft, in every Language, go* 
vern the accufative ; that is, clearly point out 
fytM fubftancive nouo> as the objie^ft to which 

9 ^ 


Its adion is direfted, A relative pronoun 
muft, in every form of Speecli^ agree with its 
Antecedent in gender, number, and perfon^ 
and conjun^ons, or conneftiag particles, 
Ott^t always to cosple like cafes and moods ^ 
that is, ought to join together words whick 
are of the fame fwm and ftate with each other^ 
I mention thefe, as a few exemplifications <^ 
that ftandamental regard to fyntax^ which, evea 
in fach a Language as ours, is abfolutely 
requifite for writing or faking with anf 

Whatever the advantages, or defefts o[ 
the Englilh Language be, as it is our owa 
Language, it deferves a high degree of our 
ftudy and attention, both with regard to the 
choice of -wcK^ds which wc employ, and with 
regard to the fyntax, or the arrangement of 
thefe words in a fentence. We know how 
much the Greeks and the Romans, in their 
moftpoU&ed and flourilhing tiaiest cultivated 
their own Tongues. We know how much 
ftudy both the French, and the Italians, have 
fceftowed upon theirs. Whatever knowledge 
niay be acquired by thtf ftudy of other Lan- 
guages, it can never be communicated with 
advantage, unlefs by fuch as can write and 
fpcak their own Language well. Let the mat- 
ter of an author be ever fo good and ufeful, 
tis compofitions will always fufFer in the pub- 

9.3 ^ 


.1- E c T. lie efteem, if his cxprcffion be deficient in pu-. 
rity and propriety. At the fame time, the at- 
tainment of a correA and elegant ftyle, is an 
objeft which demands application and labour. 
If any imagine they can catch it merely by the 
ear, or acquire it by a flight perufal of fame of 
our good authors, they will find themfelves 
much difappointed. The many errors, even 
in point of grammar, the many offences againft 
purity of L<anguage, which are committed by 
writers who are far from being conteniptible, 
demonftrate, that a careful ftudy of- the Lanr 
guage is previoufly requifite, in all who aim 
at writing it properly *• 

• On this fubjeft, %he Reader ought to perufe Dr. 
Lpwth's Short Introdu£lion to Englifh Grammar^ with 
Critical Notes ; which is the grammatical performance of 
highefl authority that has appeared in our time, and in 
which he will Tee, what 1 have iaid concerning the inaccu- 
racies in Language of fome of our beft writers, fully veri- 
fied. In Dr. Campbell's Philofophy of Rhetoric, he will 
likewife find many acute and ingenious obfervations, both 
en the Englifh Language, and on Style in general. And 
Dr. Prieilley's Rudiments of Englilh Grammar, will al.o 
\>c ufeful, by pointing out feveral of t|ie errors into whicj^ 
writers are apt to fall. 


L E C T U R E X. 



HAVING finilhed the fubjedt of Lan- lect, 
guage, I now enter on the confidera- ^' 
tion of Style, . and the rules th^t relate to it, 

It is not e^fy to give a precife idea of what 
is meant by Style. The bed definition I caa 
give of it, is, the peculiar manner in which a 
man expreffes his conceptions, by means of 
Language. It is different from mere Lan- 
guage or words. The ,words, which an au- 
thor employs, may be proper an^ faultlefs ; 
apd his Style may, neverthelefs, have great 
faults ; it may be dry, or ftiff, or feeble, or 
affefted. Style has always fome reference to 
an author's manner of thinking. It is a pic- 
ture of the ideas which rife in his mind, and 
of the manner in which they rife there j and, 
hence, when we are examining an auth9r*s 
fompofition, it is, in many cafes, extremely 

C^4 diifficuU 

fja S T Y L 'E, 

difEcult to fcparatc the Style from the fenti- 
mcnt. No wonder thefe two fhould befo in* 
tinnately connedled, as Style is nothing elfc, 
than that fort of expreflion which our thoughts 
mod readily aflume. Hence, diiferegt coun-* 
ties have been noted for peculiarities qf Style, 
fuited to their different temper and genius. 
The eaftern nations animated their Style with 
the moft ftrong and hyperbolical figures. The 
Athenians, a polifhed and acute people, 
formed a Style accurate, clear, and neat. 
The Afiatics, gay and loofe in their manners^ 
affefted a Style florid and diffufe. The like fort 
of charafteriftical differences are commonly 
remarked in the Style of the French, the Eng- 
lifh, and the Spaniards. In giving the ge- 
nera] charafters of Style, it is ufual to talk 
of a nervous, a feeble, or a fpirited Styles 
which are plainly the characters of a writer's 
rnanner of thinking, as well as of exprefling 
himfelf ; So difEcult it is to feparate thefe two 
things from one another. Of the general cha- 
racters of Style, I am afterwards to difcourfe j 
but it will be neceifary to t)egin with examin- 
ing the more fimple qyalities of it j from the 
affemblage of which, its more complex denQ" 
piinatioiiSj, in a great meafure^ refult, 

All the qualities of a good Style may be 
|-anged under two heads, Perfpicuity and Or* 
l^aoi^ptt For all that can poflibly be required 




of Language, is, to convey our ideas clearly l e c t, 
to the minds of others, and, at the fame time, ^' 
in fuch a drefs, as by pleafing and interefting 
them, fliall moll efFeduaUy ftrengthen the 
impreffions which wc fcek to make. When 
both thcfc ends are anfwered, wc certainly ac- 
complifh every purpofc for which we ufc 
Writing and Difcourfc. 

Perspicuity, it will be readily admitted, 
is the fundamental quality of Style* 5 a qua- 
lity fo eflential in every kind of writing, that, 
for the want of it, nothing can atone,. With- 
out this, the richeft ornaments of Style only 
glimmer through the dark; and puzzle, in- 
ftcad of pleafing, the reader. This, therefore, 
muft be our firft objeft, to make our meaning 
clearly and fully underftood, and underftood 
without the leaft difficulty. ** Oratio," fays 
h Quindilian, '* debet ncgligenter quoque au- 
; " dientibus effe aperta j ut in animum audi* 
*^ entis, ficut fol in oculos, etiamfi in eum nan 
*^ intendatur, occurrat, Quare, non folum 
-^ ut intelligere poflit, fed ne omnino poffit 
^^ non intelligere curandum f •" If we arc 


* ** Nobis prima fit virtus, perfpicuitas, propria verba, 

\ ^* reftus ordo, non in longum dilata conclufip-r ni^il nc* 

'* que defit, nc<jue foperfluat^" Quinctil. lib. viii. 

I t ** Oifcoarfe ought always to be obvious, even to the 

*^ moft carelefs and negligent hearer ; fo that the fenfe 

I ?^ M ftrike his mind, as the light of the fun does our 

'' eyes^ 

^ I 

j3^ P E R S P I C tr I T Vw 

obliged to follow a writer with much care, to 
paufe, and to read over his fentences a fecond 
time, in order to comprehend them fully, he 
will never pleafe us long. Mankind are too 
indolent to relifh fo much labour; They n[iay 
pretend to admire the author's depth, after 
they have difcovered his ipeaningj but they 
will feldom be inclined to take up hi§ work a 
fccond time. 

Authors fometlmes plead the difficulty 
of their lubjedt, as an excufe for the wan^ of 
Perfpicuity. But the excufe can rarely, if 
ever, be admitted. For whatever a man con- 
ceives clearly, that, it is in his power, if he wiU 
be at the trouble, to put into diftin^ propo- 
fitions, or to exprefs clearly to others : and 
upon no fubjeft ought any man to write, where 
he cannot think clearly. His ideas, indeed, 
may, very excufably, be on fome fubjefts in- 
complete or inadequate 5 but ftill, as far as they 
go, they ought to be clear; and, wherever 
this is the cafe, Perfpicuity, in expreffing 
them, is always attainable, The obfcurity 
which reigns fo much among many metaphy- 
fical writers, is, for the moft part, owing to 
. ^he indiftinftnefs of their own conceptiqns. 

** eyes, though they are not d?re£led upwards to it. Wc 

" mufl (!udy,' not only that every hearer may undcrftand 

«' us, but that it fhall be impoflible for him not to unde^:* 

V ftand u&.'" 




They fee the objeft but in a coiifufcd light j i, e c t^ 
and, of courfc, can never exhibit' it in a clear 
one to others^ 

pERSPicuiTY in writing, is not to be €0rt4 
fidered as merely a fort of negative virtue, ot 
freedom from defeft. It has hiorher merit: 
It is a degree 6f pofitive beauty. We are 
pleafed with an* author, we confider him a^ 
deferving prailc, who frees us from all fatigue 
of fearching for his- meaning; who carries u§ 
through his fiibjeft without any embarraffment 
or confufion; whofe ftyle flows always like 
a limpid ftream, where we fee to the very 

The ftudy of Perfpicuity requires^ attention, 
firft, to fingle words and phrafes, and then to 
the conftruftion of fentences. I begin with 
treating of the firft, and fhall confine myfclftp 
it in this Lcfture. 

Perspicuity, confidered with refpeft to 
words and phrafes, requires thcfe three qua- 
lities in them; Purity ^ Frofriety^ and Fre^ 

Purity and Propriety of Language, are 
often ufed indifcriminately for each other; 
and, indeed, theyare very nearly allied. A 
diftinftion, however, obtains between them. 

' Purity, 


Purity, is the ufe of fuch words, and fuch 
conftrudions^ as belong to the idiom of the 
Language which we fpeak; in pppofition tQ 
words and phrafes that are imported from other 
Languages^ or that are obfolete, or new- 
coined, or ufed without proper authority. 
Propriety, is the fele&ion of fuch words in 
the Language, as the bed and moft eftablifhed 
ufage has appropriated to thoie ideas which we 
intend to exprefs by them* It implies the 
correft and happy application of them,, accord* 
ing to that ufage, in oppofition to vulgarifms, 
of low expreflioas ; and to words and phrafes, 
which would be leis fignificant of the ideas 
that we mean to convey. Style may be pure, 
that IS, it may all be ftridly Englifli, without 
Scotticifms or Gallicifms, or ungramaiatical 
irregular exprelfions of any kind, and may, 
nevcrthclefs, be deficient in Propriety. The 
words may be ill chofen s not adapted to the 
fubjeft, nor fully exprelEve of jthe author's 
fenfe. He has taken all his words and phrafes 
from the general mais of £ngli& Language i 
but he has made his fele£Uon among theft 
words unhappily. Whereas, Style cannot be 
proper without being alfo pure; and where 
both Purity and Propriety meet, befides 
making Style perfpicuous, they alfo render it 
graceful. There is no ftandard, cither of Pu- 
rity or of Propriety, but the pra&icc of the 
beft writers and fpcakers in the country. 


P £ R S PI C tJ I T V. 437 

Wher I mentioned obfolete or new-cornea l £ c t. 
words as incongruous with Purity of Style, it 
will be caGly undcrftood, that foinc excep- 
tions are to be made. On certain occafions^ 
they may have grace. Poetry admits of 
greater latitude than profe, with refpefi: to 
coining, or> atleaft, new-compounding words i 
yet, even here, this liberty fliould be ufed with 
a fparing hand. In profe,.fuch innovations 
are riiore hazardous, and have a worfe efFe£):« 
They are apt to give Style an afFefted and con- 
ceited air i and fhould never be ventured upon, 
except by fuch, whofe eftabliihed reputation 
gives them fome degree of diftatorial power 
over Language. 

The introdu^ion of foreign and learned 
words, unlefs where neceflky requires them, 
ifaotild always be avbided. Barren Languages 
may heed fuch affidances ; but ours is not one 
of thefe. Dean Swift, one of our moft corredt 
writers, valued himfelf much on ufing no 
words but fuch as were of native growth : and 
his Language may, indeed, be confideredas a 
ftandard of the ftrifteft Purity and Propriety, 
in the choice of words. At prcfcnt, we fcem 
to be departing from this ftandard. A multi- 
tude of Latin words have, of late, been poured 
in upon us. On fome occafions, they give an 
appearance irfekvationtnd dignity to Style. 
But often alfo, they render it ftiff and forced :- 



Andi in general^ a plain native Style^ as it 
is more intelligible to all readers, fo, by a 
proper management of words, it may be made 
ccjually ftrong and expreflive with this Latin- 
ififd Englilh^ 

LfeT us now confider the iqnport of Preci- 
iion in Language, which^ as it is the higheft 
part of the quality denoted by Perfpicuity,. 
merits a full explication i and the more, 'be- 
caufe diftind ideastare^ perhaps, not commonly 
formed about it^ - , 

The exaft import of Prccifion may be drawn 
from the etymology of the word. It comes 
from " precidere," to cutoff: It imports re- 
trenching all fuperfluities, and pruning the 
cxpreliion fo, ^s te exhibit neither more nor 
lefs than an exaft copy of his idea who ufes it; 
1 obferved before, that it is often difficult to 
feparate the qualities of Style from the qaali<« 
ties of Thought ; and it is found fo in this 
inftance. For, in order to write with Precifion, 
though this be properly a quality of Stgrle, 
one muft poflefs a very confiderable degree 
of diftinftnefs and accuracy in his manner of 

The words, which a man ufes to exprefs his 
ideas, may be faulty m three refpfds : They 

piay either not exprefs that idea which the au- 


tkoi* intends, but fome other which only re* 
ftmbl€$> or is akin to it 5 or> they may exprcfs 
that idea, but not quite fully and completely ; 
or, they may exprefs it, together with fome- 
thing^iore than he intends* Frecifion (lands 
oppofed to all thefe three faults ^ but chiefly 
to th€ laft. In an author's writing with Pro-? 
priety, his being .free from the two for^ner 
faults feems implied* The words which he 
ufes arc proper ; that is, they exprefs th^at idea 
which he intends, and they exprefs it fully; 
but to be Precife, fignifics, that they exprefs 
that idea, and np. more^ There is nothing 
in his words which introduces any foreign idea^ 
any fuperfluous unfeafonabk accefibry, fo as 
to mix it confufedly with the principal objeft, 
and thereby to render our conception of that 
objedt Joofe and indiftinft. This requires a 
writer to have, bimfelf, a very clear apprehen- 
(ion of the objeft he means to prefent to us 3 
to have laid faft hold of it in his mind^ and 
never to waver in any one view he takes of 
it : a perfcition to which, indeed* few writers 
attain. . 

* • 

The ufe and importance of Precifion, may 
be deduced from the nature of the humart 
mind. It never can view, clearly and dif- 
tinftly, above one objeft. at a time* If it 
muft look at two or three together,- efpecially 
bbjefts amoiig which there is rcfcmblance or 



t E c T, connexion, it finds itfelf confufed an<f embaN 

railed. It cannot clearly perceive in whaii 

they agree^ and in what they differ* Thus, 

were any obge6l> fuppofe fome animal, to be 

prefented to me, of whofe ftru£ture I wanted 

to form a diilin£t notion, I would defire all its 

trappings to be taken off, I would require it 

to be brought before me by itfelf, and to Hand 

alone, that there might be nothing to diftra£t 

my attention. The fame is the cafe with 

words. If, when you would inform me of 

your meaning, you alfo tell me more than 

what conveys iti if you join foreign circum- 

ftances to the principal objeft j if, by unne* 

ceffarily varying the expreffion, you Ibift the 

point of view, and make me fee fometimes the 

objeft itfelf, and fometimes another thing that 

is connefted with it ; you thereby oblige me 

to look on feveral objefts at once, and I lofc 

light of the principal. You load the animal, 

you are Ihowing me, with fo many trappings 

and collars, and bring fo many of the fame 

fpecies before me, famewhat refembling, and 

yet fomewhat differing, that I fee none of thent 


This forms' what is called a Loofe Style; 
and is the proper oppofite to Precifion. It gc-^ 
ncrally arifes fromufing a fuperftuity of words* 
Feeble writers employ a multitude of words 
to m^ke themfelvcs underllood, as they think; 


PRECI8I0K IN Sf VtE. «4t 

more diftinftly ; and they only confotind the ' t £ c t. 
reader. They arc fcnfible of not having caught 
the precife expreffion, to convey what they 
wouM flgnify ; they do not^ indeed, conceive 
their own nneaning very precifcly themfelvesj 
and, therefore, help it out, as they can, by* 
this and the other word, which may, as they 
fuppofe^ fupply .the defeft, and bring you 
ibmewhat nearer to their idea ; They are 
always going about it, and about it, but never 
juft hit the thing* The image, as they fet it 
before you, is always feen double; and no 
double image is dillin£b» When an author 
tells me of his hero's courage in the day of 
battle, the exprefiion is precife, and I under- 
ftand it fully. But if, from the defire of mul- 
tiplying words, he will needs praife his couragi 
and fortitude \ at the moment he joins thefc 
words together, my idea begins to waver. He 
means to exprefs one quality more ftrongly ; 
but he is, in truth, expreifing two. Courage 
refifts danger J fortitude fupports pain. The 
occaGon of exerting each of thefe qualities js 
differefic^ and being led to think of both to« 
gcther, when only one of them fhould be in 
my view, iriy view is. rendered unfteady, and 
wy conception of the objeft indiftinft. 

From what I have faid> it appears that an 
wsthor may, in a qualified fenfe, be perfpi-^ 
cuous, while yet he is far from being precife. 

Vol. J. R He 


He ufcs proper words, and proper arrange- 
ment; he gives you the idea as clear as he 
conceives it himftlf j and fo far he is perfpi- 
cuous : but the ideas are not very clear in his 
pwn mind s they are loofe and general -, and^ 
therefore, cannot be expreffed with Precifion. 
All fubjefts do not equally require Precifion* 
It is fufficient, on many occafionsj that we 
have a general view of the meaning. The 
fubjcft, perhaps, is of the known and familiar 
kind; and we are in no hazard of miftaking 
the fenfe of the author, though every word 
which he ufes be not precife and exa£l. 

Few authors, for inftance, in the Englifh 
L^guage, are more clear and perfpicuous, 
on the whole, than Archbifhop Tillotfon, and 
Sir William Temple ; yet neither of them arc 
remarkable for Precifion, They are loofe and 
difFufe ; and accuftomed to exprefs their 
ineaning by feveral words, which ihew you 
fully whereabouts it lies, rather than to fingle 
out thofe exprcflions, which would convey 
•clearly the idea they have in view, and no 
more* Neither, indeed, is Precifion the pre- 
vailing charader of Mr, Addifon's Style; al- 
though he is not fo deficient in this refpe6t as 
the other two authors. 

Lord Shaftsbury's faults, in point of Pre- 
cifion, are much greater than Mr. Addifon's ; 



and the rnord unpardonable, becaufe he Ts a l e c t. 
profcffed philofophical writer; who, as fuch, 
oughtj above all things^ to have ftudied Pre-r 
cifion. His Style has both great beauties, 
and great faults ; and, on the whole, is by no 
means a fafe model for imitation. Lord 
Shaftfbury wa§ well acquainted with the power 
of words i thofe which he employs are gene- 
rally proper and well, founding j he has great 
variety of them ; and his arrangement^ as (hall 
be afterwards (hown, is commonly beautiful. 
His defeft, in:PreciGon, is not owing fo 
much to indiftindt or confufed ideas, as to 
perpetual afFeftation. He is fond, to cxcefs, 
of the pomp and parade of Language; he is 
never fatisfied with expreffing any thing clearly 
and fimply ; he muft always give it the drefs 
of ftate and niajefty, - Hence perpetual cir- 
cumlocutions, and many words and phrafes 
employed to.defcribe fomcwhat, that would 
have been defcribed much better by one of 
them. If he has occafion to mention any per- 
fon or author, he. very rarely mentions him by 
his proper name. In the treatife, entitled^ 
Advice to an Author, he defcants for two or 
three pages together upon Ariftotle, without 
once naming him in any other way, than the 
Matter Critic, the Mighty Genius and Judge 
of Art, the Prince of Critics, the Grand Maf- 
ter of Art, and Gonfummate Philologift. In 
the fame way, the Grand Poetic Sire, the Phi- 

R 2 lofophical 

244 ]^RECISI0N IK STYLfi. 

lofophical Patriarch, and his Difciple of No- 
ble Birth, and lofty Genius, are the only nMtieft 
by which he condefcends to diftinguifh Ho^ 
mer, Socrates, and Plato, in another paiTag^ 
of the fame trcatifc. This method of diftin- 
guifhing perfons is extremely affected ; but it 
is not fo contrary to Precifion, as the frequent 
circumlocutions he employs for all moral 
ideas ; attentive, on every occafion, more to 
the pomp of Language, than to the clearneft 
which he ought to have ftudifed as a philofo*- 
j)her. The moral fenfe, for inftance, after hfc 
had once defined it, was a clear term; but, 
how vague becomes the idea, ivhen, in the 
next page, he calls it, '* That natural affec- 
tion, and anticipating fancy, which makes 
the fenfe of right and wrong ?'* Self-exa- 
mination, or refleftion on our own conduft, 
is an idea conceived with eafe ; but when it is 
wrought into all the forms of, " A man's di- 
*' viding himfelf into two parties, becoming a 
" felf-dialogift, entering into partnerfliip with 
** himfelf, , forming the dual number pratfti- 
^ cally within himfelf i" we hardly know what 
to make of it. Oiv fome occafions, hfe fo 
adorns, or rather loads with words, the plain- 
effi and. fimpleft propofitions, as, if not to ob- 
fcure, at leafl:, to enfeeble thenv, ' 

• In the following paragraph, for exampfc, oF 
the Inquiry concerning Virtue, he means to 



ibow, that, by every ill adtion we hurC our l e c t. 
mind, as much as one who (hould fwallow 
poifon, or give himfclf a wound, would hurt 
his body. Obferve what a redundancy of 
words he pours forth : " Now, if the fabric 

* of the mind or temper appeared to us, fuch 
^ as it really is j if we faw it impoffiblc to 

* remove hence any on^ good or orderly afFec- 
^ tion, or to introduce any ill or difordcrly 
'one, without drawing on, in fome degree, 
^ that diiToliite (late which, at its height, is 
' confefled to be fo miferable ; it would then, 
' undoubtedly, be confefled, that fmce no ill, 

* imntioral, or unjuft aftion, can be com- 
'mitted, without either a new inroad and 

* breach on the temper and paflions, or a 
' further advancing of that execution already 
'done J whoever did ill, or aded in preju- 

* dice of his integrity, good-nature, or worth, 
' would, of neccflity, aft with greater cruelty 
'towards himfelf, than he who fcrupled not 
' to fwallow what was poifon ous, or who, 
'with his own hands, 0iould voluntarily 
' mangle or wound his outward form or coa- 
' ftitution, natural limbs or body *.'* H^re, 

to commit a bad aftion, is, firft, " To renaove 
' a good and orderly afFe(Sion, and to jntro- 
' duce an ill or diforderly one i" next, it is, 
' To commit an aftion that is ill, immoral, 

♦ CharafterilL Vol. IJ. p. 3j. 

R 3 *' and 

h6 precision in style. 

** ancJ unjutt ;" and in the next line, it is, 
" To do ill, or to aft in prejudice of integrity, 
*' good -nature, arid worth ;" nay, fo very 
fimple a thing as a man's wounding himfclf, 
is, ** To mangle, or wound, his outward form 
** and conftitution, his natural limbs or body." 
Such fuperfluity of words is difguftful to every 
reader of corrcft tafte j and ferves no purpofe 
but to cmbarrafs and perplex the fenfe. This 
fort of Style is elegantly defcribed by Quinc- 
tilian, ** Eft in quibufdam turba inanium ver- 
" borum, qui dum communem loquendi 
*' morem reformidant, dufti fpecie nitoris, 
" circumcunt omnia copiofa loquacitate quae 
** dicere volunt *.'* Lib, vii. cap. 2. 

The great fource of a loofc Style, in oppo- 
fition to Precifibn, is the injudicious ufc of 
thofe words termed Synonymous. They arc 
called Synonymous, becaufe they agree in 
cxpreffing one principal ideas but, for the 
moft part, if not always, they exprcfs it with 
fome diverfity in the circumftances. They 
are varied by fome acceflbry idea which every 
word introduces, and which forms tlie diftinc- 
tion between them. Hardly, in any Lan- 


• V A crowd of unineaning words is brought together, 
*• by fome authors, who, afraid of expreiling themfelves 
'' after a common and ordinary manner, and allured by an 
*• appearance of fplendour, furround every thing which 
f they mean to fay with a certain cfopioire loquacity.** 

9 guage. 


guage, are there two words that convey pre- 
cifely the fame idea^ a perfon thoroughly con- 
verfant in the propriety of the Language, will 
always be able to obferve fomething that dif- 
tinguiflies them. As they arc like different 
fhades of the fame colour, an accurate writer 
can employ them to great advantage, by ufing 
them, fo as to heighten and to finifli the pic- 
ture which he gives us. He fupplies by one, 
what was wanting in the other, to the force, or 
to the luftre of the image which he means to 
exhibit. But, in order to this end, he mu(^ 
be extremely attentive to the choice which he 
makes of them. For the bu^k of writers are 
very apt to confound them with each other j 
and to employ them carelefsly, merely for the 
fake of filling up a period, or of rounding and 
diverfifying the Language, as if their fignifi- 
cation were exaftly the fame, while,, in truth, 
it is not. Hence a certain mift, and indiilindt*- 
mk, is unwarily thrown over Style. 

In the Latin Language, there are no two 
words we Ihould more readily take to be fy- 
nonymous, than amare and diligere* Cicero, 
however, has fhcwn us, that there is a very 
clear diftinftion betwixt them. *' Quid ergo," 
fays he, in one of his epiftles, " tibi com- 
*^ mendem eum quern tu ipfe diligis ? Sed 
<* tarnen yt fcir^s eum non a me diligi folum, 
^' vcrum etiam amari, ob earn rem tibi haec 

R 4 " fcribo," 


*^ fcribo*." In the fame manner tutus and 
Jecurufy are words which we Ihould readily 
confound i yet their meaning is different* 
futusy fignifies out of danger; Jecurusj free 
from the dread of it. Seneca has elegantly 
marked this diftindion i '* Tuta fcelera «flb 
•^ poffunt, fccura non poiTunt f .'* In our own 
Langu^e, very many inftano(3 might be 
given of a difference in meaning among words 
reputed Synonymous j and, as the fubjeft is 
of importance, I (ball now point out fomc of 
thefe. The inftances which I am to give, may 
themfelves be of ufe % and they will ferve to 
ihew the neccffaty of attending, with care and 
(Iridtnefs, to the cxaft import of words, if 
ever we would write with Propriety or Pre* 

Aujlerityy Severity^ Rigour. Aufterity, re- 
lates to the manner of living i Severity, of 
thinking; Rigour, of punilhing. To Aufte- 
rity, is oppofed Effeminacy; to Severity, 
Relaxation ; to Rigour, Clemency. A Her- 
mit, is auftere in his life; a Cafuift^ fevere 
in his application of religion or law; a Judge, 
rigorous in his fentences> 

Cufiom, Hahit. Cuftom refpefts the ac- 
tion ; Habit, the a<tor. By Cuftom, w? 

* Ad Farpil. 1. 13, Ep. ^-j, f Epif. ^7. 



mean the frequent repetition of the f^mc aft 5 
by Habit;, the^ffeft which that repetition pro- 
duces on the mind or body. By the Cuftom 
of walking often in the ftrcets, one acquires a 
Habit of idlenefs, 

Surprifedy afionijhed^ amazed^ confounded. X 
am furprifed, with what is new or unexpeded; 
I am aftoniihed, at what is vaft or great; 
I am^mazed, with what is incomprehenfible; 
I am confounded, by what is Ihocking or 

^^fifii renouncBy quit, leave oJ\ Each of 
thefe words imply fomc purfuit or objeft re- 
linquifhed ; but from different motives. Wc 
dcfift, from the difficulty of accomplifliing^ 
We renounce, on account of the difagreeable- 
Dcfs of the objcft, or purfuit. We quit, for ^ 
the fake of fome other thing which interefts us 
more; and we leave 06^, becaufe wc are 
weary of the defign. A Politician defifts frorn 
his defigns, when he finds they are imprafti-f 
pablej he renounces the court, becaufe hp 
has been affronted by itj he quits anibi* 
tion for iludy or retirement ; and leaves off hi^ 
attendance on the great^ as he becomes old an4 
we^ry of if , 

. Pride, Vanity. Pride, makes us eftcem 
oyrfflve? j Vanity, makes us defire the 




LECT. eflecm of others. It is juft to fay, as Dean 
Swift has done, that a man is too proud to be 

Haugbtinefsy Di/dain. Haughtinefs is found- 
ed on the high opinion we entertain of our- 
ielves; Difdarn, on the low opinion we have 
of others. 

To diftinguijh, to Jeparate. We diftinguiffi, 
what we want not to confound with another 
riling J we feparate, what we want to remove 
from it. Objefts are diftinguiflicd from one 
another, by iheir qualities. They are fepa- 
rated, by the diftancc of time or place. 

91? weary y to fatigue. The continuance of 
the fame thing wearies us ; labour fatigues us. 
I am weary with (landing j I am fatigued with 
walking. A fuitor wearies us by his perft- 
verancc ; fatigues us by his importunity* 

To albor^ to detejl. To abhor, imports, 
limply, ftrong diflike ; to deteft, imports alfo 
ftrong difapprobation. One abhors being in 
debt i he detefts treachery. 

To invent, to di/cover. We invent things 
that are new; we difcover what was before 
hidden. Galileo invented the telefcopej Har- 
ycv difcovered th? circulation of the blood. 


Only, alone. Only, imports that there i% t e c t. 
no other of the fame kind; alone, imports i, 
being accompanied by no other. An only 
child, is one who has neither brother nor 
fifterj a child alone, is one who is left by 
itfelf. There is a difference, therefore, . in 
precifc Language, betwixt thefc two phrafes, 
" Virtue only makes us happy j" and, " Vir- 
"tue alone makes us happy." Virtue only 
makes us happy, imports, that nothing elfc 
can do it. Virtue alone makes us happy, 
imports, that virtue, by itfelf, or unaccom^ 
panied with other advantages, is fufEcicnt to 
do it. 


Entire^ Complete. A thing is entire, by 
wanting none of its parts 5 complete, by 
wanting none of the appendages that belong 
to it. A man may have an entire houfeto 
himfelf J ^nd yet not have one complete apart' 

Tranquillity y Peace ^ Calm. Tranquil lity» 
rcfpefts a fituation free from trouble, con- 
fidercd in itfelf; Peace, the fame fituation 
with refpcdt to any caufes that might interrupt 
it; Calm, with regard to a difturbed fituatjon 
going before, or following it. A good man 
fenjoys Tranquillity, in himfelf; Peace, w^th 
Others ; aA4 Calm, after the ftorm, 

4 Dif. 


L B c T. A Difficulty, an OhfiacU. A Difficulty, an- 
barrafles ; an Obftacle^ fteps. us. We re- 
move the one j we furmoun^ the other. Ge- 
nerally^ the firftj exprefles fomewhat arifing 
from the nature and circumftanccs of the af- 
fair 3 the fecondj fomewhat arifing from a f(>« 
reign caufe. Philip found Difficulty in ma- 
naging the Athenians from the nature of 
their difpofitions; but the eloquence of De- 
moilhenes was the greateft Obltack to his de- 

Wijdomy Prudence, Wifdom leads us to 
fpeak and a6t what is mod proper. Prudence, 
prevents our fpcaking or afting improperly, 
A wife man, employs the moft proper means 
for fuccefs ; a prudent man, the fafeit means 
for not being brought into danger. 

Enough, Sufficient. Enough, relates to the 
quantity which one wiihes to have of any 
thing. Sufficient, relates to the ufe that is to 
be made of it. Hence, Enough, generally 
imports a greater quantity than Sufficient doe$. 
The covetous m?in never hgs enoughs although 
he has what is fufficient for nature. 

To avow, to acknowledge, to confejs. Each 
of thefe words imports the affirmation of a 
faft, but in very different circumftanccs. To 
»vow, fuppofc$ the perfon to glory in it ; to 



acknowledge, fuppdfes a fmall degree of faulti- l e c t. 
nefs, which the acknowledgment compen- , ^\ 
fates J to confcfs, fuppofes a higher degree of 
crimci A patriot Avows his oppofitioft to a 
bad minifter, and is applauded ; a gentleman 
acknowledges his miftake, and is forgiven -, a 
prilbner confeflcs the crirtic he is accufcd gf^ 
and is punilhed. 

To remark^ to olfervi. We f embark, in tfe^ 
way of attention, in order to remembers we 
obferve, in the way of examination, in order 
to judge. A traveller remarks the moft ftrik- 
ing objefbs he fees ; a general obicrves all the 
.motions of his enemy. 


Equivocal^ Ambiguous, Aft Equivocal E^- 
|)reflion is, one which has dne fenfc open, and 
defigned to ht uhderdood ; another fenfe con-- 
cealcd, and uttderftood only by the perfon who 
ufcs it. An Ambiguous Exprcffion is, one 
which has apparently two fenfcs, and leaves us 
at a lofs which of them to give it. An equr- 
vocal expreflion is ufed with an intention to 
deceive; an ambiguous one, when it is ufed with 
defign, is, with an intention not to give full 
inforrftation. An honeft man will never em- 
ploy an equivocal expreflion ; a confufcd man 
may often utter ambiguous ones, without any 
defign. I fliall give only one inftance more. 


With, By. Both thele particles ' exprei^ 
the conne£lion between fome inftrument# or 
means of effe6ting an end^ and the agent 
who employs it j but wilb, exprefles a more 
clofe and immediate connexion s ^> a more 
remote one. We kill a man wifb a fword^ 
be dies ly violence. The criminal is bound 
whb ropes iy the executioner. The proper 
diftindion in the ufe of thefe particles, is 
elegantly marked in a pafTage of Dr. Ro^ 
bertfon's Hiftory of Scotland. When one 
of the old Scottiih kings was making an 
enquiry into the tenure iy which His no- 
bles held their lands, they ftarted'up*, and 
drew their fwords : " By thefe," faid they^ 
«• we acquired our lands, and with thefe, 
•^ we will defend them." " 5y thefe we 
•* acquired our lands;" fignifies the more 
remote means of acquifition by force and mar- 
tial deeds j and, " wilb thefe we will defend 
«* them ;" fignifies the immediate direft in- 
ilrument, the fword, which they would employ 
in their defence. 

These are inftanccs of words, in. our 
Language, which, by carelefs writers, are 
apt to be employed as perfcdly fynonymous^ 
and yet are not fo. Their fignifications ap« 
proach, but are not precifely the fame. The 
more the diftim^ion in the meaning of fuch 




words 19 weighed, and attended to, the more l e c t. 
clearly and forcibly (hall we fpeak or write *• 

From all that has been faid on this head, 
it will now appear, that, in order to write 
or fpeak with Precifion, two things are 
efpecially requiHte ; one, that an author's 
own ideas be clear and diftinft; and the other, 
that he have an exact and full comprehenfion 
of the force of thofc words which he employs. 
Natural genius is here required ; labour 
and attention ftill more. Dean Swift is one 
of the authors, in our Language, moft diftin- 
guiihed for PreciHon of Style. In his writings, 
we feldom or never find vague expreflions, 
and fynonymous words, carelefly thrown toge- 
ther. His meaning is always clear, and (Irongly 

* In French, there is a very ufeful treatife on this 
fubjedl, the Abbe Girard's Synonjmes Fran^oi/ts^ in which. 
he has made a large collection of fuch apparent Syno- 
nynnes in the Language, and (hown, with much accaracy, 
the difierence in their iigniiication. It is to be wiihed, 
that Tome fuch work were undertaken for oor tongue^ 
and executed with equal tafte and judgment. Nothing 
would contribute more to precife and elegant writing. 
In the mean time, this French Treatife may be perufed 
with confiderable profit. It will accaflom perfons to 
weigh, with attention, the force of words; and will 
fuggeft feveral diftindions betwixt fynonymous terms in 
our own language, analogous to thofe which be has 
pointed out in the French ; and, accordingly, feveral of 
the inHances above given were fuggefled by the work of 
this author. 



I HAt) occafion to ob ferve htfott^ that 
though all fubjefts of writmg or difcourfe 
demand Perfpicuity, yet all do not , require 
the fame degree of that cxadk Precifion, 
which I have endeavoured to explain. It 
is, indeed, in every fort of writings a great 
beauty to have, at leaft, fonrie meafure of 
Precifion, in diftindtion from that loofc pro* 
fufion of words which imprints no clear, idea 
on the reader's mind. But we moft^ at the 
fame time, be on our guard, left too great a 
ftudy of Precifion, efpecially in fubje6U.' 
where it is not ftriftly requifitc, betray us 
into a dry and barren Style 5 left, from the 
defire of pruning too clofcjy, we retrench all 
copioufnefs and ornament. Some degree of 
this failing may, perhaps, be remarked in 
Dean Swift's ferious works. Attentive only 
to exhibit his ideas clear aad exa<5t, refting 
wholly on his fenfe and diftindtnefs, he ap- 
pears to rejed, difdainfujly, all cmbellifh- 
ment which, on fome occafions, xnisiy be 
thought to render his manner foniewhat hard 
and dry. To unite Copioufnefs and Preci- 
fion, to be flowing and graceful, and, at the 
fame time, correft and ex^6t in the choice of 
every word, is, no doubt^ one of the highcft 
and moft difficult attainments in writicg. 
Some kinds of compofition may require more 
of Copioufnefs and Ornament; others, more 
«f Precifion and Accuracy; nay, in the fame 
I com* 


compofition^ the different parts of it may de- t e c t, 
mand a proper variation of manner. But we 
mud ftudy never to facrifice^ totally^ any one 
of tbeie qualities to the other 1 and> by a pro- 
per ilianagement^ both 6f them may be made 
fully confident, if our own ideas be precife, 
and our knowledge and dock of words be^ at 
the fame time, extenfive. 

Vot. h 

> < 





HAVING begun to treat of Style, irf 
the I aft Lcfture I confidcred its funda- 
mental quality, Perfpicuity. What I have 
faid of this, relates chiefly to the choice of' 
Words. From Words I proceed to Sentences; 
and as, in all writing and difcourfe, the pro- 
per compofition and ftrufture of Sentences is 
of the higheft importance, I fhall treat of this 
felly. Though Perfpicuity be the general 
head under which I, at prefent, confider Lan- 
guage, I (hall not confine myfelf to this qua- 
lity alone^ in Sentences, but (hall enquire 
alfo, what is requifite for their Grace and 
Beauty : that I may bring together, under 
one view, all that fcems ncceffary to be at- 
tended to in the conftruftion and arrangement 
of words in a Sentence* 

It is notcafy to give an exafl: definition of 
a Sentence, or Period, farther, than as it al- 
ways implies fome one complete propofition 

8 or 

StkUdrtlttE DF SENtENCES. .55^ 

•tr enunciation of thought. Ariftotle's defini- 
tion is, in.thc main> a good one : ** A«^ij ix^^roL 

" A form of Speech which hath a beginning 
*^ and an end within itfelfi and is of fuch 4 
** length as to be eafily comprehended at 
'^^ once." This, howeverj admits of great 
latitude. For a Sentence, or Period, con^ 
fifts always of component parts^ Which are 
called its members j and as thefc members 
tnky be either few or many, and may be con- 
ceded ill feveral different ways, the fame 
thought, or mental propofuionj may often be 
"cither brought into one Sentence, or fplit into 
two or three, without the material breach of 
any rule. 

The firft variety that occurs in the confidera- 
tioh of Sentences^ is, the diflinAion of long and 

^ Ihortones. The precife length of JScntcnces, 
as to the number of Words, or the number of 
Members, which may enter into them, can- 

' Tiot be afccrtained by any definite meafure* 
At the fame time, it is obvious, there may 

, be an extreme on either fide. Sentences, im- 
nioderately long, and confifting of too many 
inembers, always tranfgrefs Ibme one or othef 
of the rules which I Ihall mention foon, as 
hcceffary to be obfervcd in every good Sen- 

I tehee; In difcourfes that are to be Ipoken, 

I regard muft be had ta the eafinefs of pronun* 

S 2 ciatton« 


L F c T. elation, which is not confiftcnt with too long 
periods* In compofitions where pronunciar- 
tion has no plaec, ftill, however, by ufing 
long Periods too frequently, an author over- 
loads the reader's car> and fatigues his atten- 
tion. For long Periods require, evidently, 
more attention than (hort ones, in order to 
perceive clearly, the con^oexion of the fcveral 
parts, and to take in the whole at one view. 
At the fame time, there may be an exccfs in 
too many fliort Sentences alfo ; by which the 
fenfe is fplit and broken, the connexion of 
thought weakened, and the memory burdened, 
by prcfeming to it a long fucceffioa of minute 
objeds. , - 



With regard to the length and conftruftion 
of Sentences, the French critics make a very 
ji^ft Uiftinftion of Style, into Style Periodique^ 
and Style Coupe „ The Style Periodique is, 
where the Sentences are compofed of fevcral 
members linked together, and hanging upon 
one another, fo that^ the fenfe of the wholes is 
not brought out till the clofe. This is the 
moft pompous, mufical, and oratorical man- 
ner of compofingi as in the following fen- 
tence of Sir William Temple: " If you look 
" about you,, and co»fider the lives of others 
*' as well as your own j if you think how few 
*^ are born with honour, and how many die 
'' without name or children; how Httle beauty 

*^ wc 



" we fee, and how few friends we hegr of i how l \^ t. 

" many difcafcs, and how much poverty there 

*f is in the world i yot will fall down upon 

" your knees, and, inftead of repining at 

^' one afflii^ion, will admire fo many blefT- 

*^ iflgs which you have received from the hand 

« of God." (Letter to Lady Eir«,) Cicero 

abound3 with Sentences conftrudi^d after this 


The Style Coupe is, where the fenfe is 
formed into Ihort . independent propofuions, 
each complete within itfelf s as i^ the follow- 
ing, of Mn P(^e: *< I confcfs, it was want 
^' of confideration that made me an author. 
*' I writ, becaufe it amufed me. I correfted, 
" becaufe it was as pleafant to me to correal 
" as to write. I publilhed, becaufe, I was 
<^ told, I might pleafe fuch as it was a credit 
" to pleafe."' (Preface to his works.) This 
is very much the French method of writing ; 
and always fuits gay and eafy fubjcfts. The 
Style Periodiquey gives an air of gravity and 
dignity to compofition. The Style Coupe, is 
more lively and ftriking. According to the 
nature of the compofitioOj therefore, and the 
general character it ought to bear, the one or 
other may be predominant. But, in almoft 
every kind of compofition, the great rule is 
to intermix them. For the ear tires of either 
gf (hqm when too long continued : Whcreas^^ 

S ;j by 


by a proper mixture of long and fliort Periods/ 
the ear is gratified, and a certain fprightlinefs 
is joined with majefty in our Style. ** Non 
" fempcr/* fays .Cicero (defcribing, very ex- 
preffively, thefe two different kinds of Styles, 
of which I have been fpeaking), " non femper 
" utendum eft perpetuitate, & quafi qonver- 
** fione verborum ; fed faspe carpenda mem- 
** bris n^inutioribus oratio eft*/*' 

This variety is of fo great coofecjuence, 

that it muft be ftudied, not only in the fuc- 
ceffion of long and fliort Sentencesj^ bat in 
the ftru6kure of our Sentences alfo. A train 
of Sentences, conftrufted in the fame man- 
ner, and with the fame number of members, 
whether long or (hort, fliould never be allowed 
to fucceed one another. However mufical each 
pf them may be, it has a better effeft ta intro- 
duce even a difcord, than to cloy the ear with 
the repetition of Gmilar founds : For, nothing 
is fo tirefome as perpetual uniformity. In 
this article of the conftruftion and diftribu- 
tion of his Sentences, Lx)rd Shaftibury has 
fliown great art. In the laft LcAure, I ob- 
ferved, that he is often guilty of facrificing 
precifion of ftyle to jiomp of expreflSon ; and 
that th^re runs through his whole manner^ ^ 

* *' It is not proper always to employ a coiuinue^ train, 
^< and a fort of regular compafs of phrafes ; but ilyle ought 
f f to be often broken down into fmaller members.'^ 



ftiffnefs'and jifFedatioli^ which render him 
ycry. unfit td be confidercd as a general model; 
Bat^ as his ear fioc, and as he waii ex- 
tremely attentive to eyery thing that isi elegant, 
be has ftudied the proper iaterroixturc oC long: 
and fhort Sentences<|, with variety and harmony 
in their ftrufture, more than any other Englilh 
author : and for this pmrt of compoficibn he' 
dcferves attention • 

Fi;.OM thefe general obferyations, let us now 
defcend to a more particular confideratioii of 
the qualities that are. required to mai^e a Sen- 
tence perfeft. So much depends updn the 
proper conftruftion of Sentences, that, in. 
every fort of compofition, we cannot be toq> 
ftrift in our attentions to it. For, be the fub- 
je6t what it will, if the Sentences be con- 
ftruded in a clumfy, perplexed, or feeble 
manner, it i$ impoffible that a work, com- 
pofed of fuch Sentences, can be read^wkh 
pleafure, or even with profit. Whereas, by 
giving attention to the rules which relate tq 
this part of ftyle, we acquire the habit of ex- 
preffing ourfelves with perfpicuity and ele- 
gance; and if a diforder chance to arife in. 
fbme of our Sentences, we immediately fee. 
where it lies, and are able to rcAify it *, 


'* On the Strufttirc of Sentences, the Antients appear 
to have bellowed a great deal of attention and care. The 
Tre^tife of Demetrii^s Phalereus, cre^t E^/xDveiot?, aboirnds 

S 4 witl^ 



The properties moft eiTential to a perfed: 
Sentence^ feem to me, the four following: 
!• Clearnefs and Precifion. 2. Unity. 3. 
Strength. 4. Harmony. Each of thefe I 
Ihall illuftrate feparately, and at fome length. 

The firft is, Clearnefs and Precifion. The 
leaft failure here, the leaft degree of am- 
biguity, which leaves the mind in any fort of 
fufpenfe as to the meaning, ought to be 
avoided with the greateft care j nor is it fo eafy 
a matter to keep always clear of this, as one 
might, at firft, imagine. Ambiguity arifes 
from two caufes : either from a wrong choice 
of words, or a wrong collocation of them. 
Of the choice of words, as far as regards 
Perfpicuity, I treated fully in the laft Lefture. 
Of the collocation of them, I am now to 
treat. The firft thing to be ftudied here, is, 
to obferve exactly the rules of grammar, as 
far as thefe can guide us. But as the gram- 
mar of our Language is not ext^enfive, there 

Vfith obfervations upon the choice and collocation of words 
carried to fuch a degree of nicety, as would frequently feem 
to us minute. The Treatife 'of Diooyiius of HaHcarnafTus, 
«rs^( ffu^tffiu^ wofiaruv^ IS more maflerly ; but is chiefly con-r 
fined to the mnfical ftrudure of Periods : a fubjefl, ior 
which the Greek Language aiTorded much more afl^fiaiice 
tp their writers, than our Tongue admits. On the ar- 
rangement of words, in Englifli Sentences, the xvliith 
chapter of Lord Kaims^s Elements of Criticifm ought to 
l^e oonfulted ; and alfo, the 2d Volume of Dr. Campbe|l*^ 
f hilofophy of Rhetoric, 




may often be an ambiguous collocation of ^ \^ t. 
words, where there is no tranfgreflion of any 
grammatical rule. The relations which the 
words,- or members of a pcribd, bear to one 
another, cannot be pointed put in EngliQi, 
as in the Greek or Latin, by means of ter-p 
mination ; it is afcertained only by the pofi- 
tion in which they Hand. Hence a capital rule 
in the arrangement of Sentences is, that the 
words or members moft nearly related, fhould 
be placed in the Sentence, as near to each 
other as poflible i fo as to make their Viutual 
relation clearly appear. This is a rule not 
always obferved, even by good writers, a$ 
ftri<5lly as it ought to be. It will be neceffary 
to produce fome inftances, which will both 
Ihow the importance of this rule, and make 
the application of it underftbod. 

First, In the pofition of adverbs^ which 
are ufed to qualify the fignification* of fomc- 
thing which cither precedes pr follows them, 
there is often a good deal of nicety. *' By 
" greatnefs,*' fays Mr. Addifon, in the Spefta- 
tor. No. 412. " I do not only mean the bulk 
" of any fingle object, but the largenefs of a 
«^ whole view." Here the place of the adverb 
cnfyj^Tcndtrs it a limitation of the following 
word, meaa. '^ I do not only mean/' The 
queftion may then be put. What does he 
more than mean ? Had he placed it after tulk, 




L EC T. ftill it would have been wrong. *^ I do not 
*' mean the bulk anly of any fingle objetSt/' 
For wp might then afk. What, does he nc^ear^ 
more than the bulk ? Is it the colour ? or any 
ether property ? Its proper place, undoubt- 
edly, is, after the word object. ** By great- 
^* nefs, I do not mean the bulk of any fingle 
^^ objedt onlyi" for then, when we put the 
queftion. What more does he mean than 
the bulk of a fingle objeft ? the anfwer 
conies out exaftly as the author intends, 
and gives it ; *' The largenefs of a whok 
•^ view/' — ^^ Theifm," fays Lord Shaftfburyi 
«^ can only be oppofed topolytheifm, or athe- 
♦* ifm." Does he mean that theifm is capable 
of nothing elfc,'Cxcept being oppofed to poly- 
theifm or atheifm ? This is what his words 
literally import, through the wrong coUoca^ 
tion of only. He Ihould have faid, " Theifn> 
<•* can be oppofed only to polytheifm or atbe- 
•* ifm."— In like manner. Dean Swift (Projeft 
fpr the Advancement of Religion), ^^ Th? 
Romans undcrftood liberty, at leaft, as well 
as we." Thefe words are capable of two 
different fenfes, according as the cmpbafis, in 
reading them, is laid upon liberty^ or upon ^ 
leaft. In the firfl: cafe, they will fignify, that 
y/hatever other things we may underftand bet- 
ter than the Romans, liberty^ at leaft, was one 
thing which they undcrftood as well as we. Iq 
the fecond cafe, they will impgrt, th^t libcrtjf 




t<ras underftopcj, at leaft as well by them as by L e c t»; 
US; meaning, that by them it was better un- 
derftood. If this laft, as I make no doubt, 
was Dean Swift's own meaning, the ambiguity 
would have been avoided, and the fenfe ren- 
dered independent of the manner of pro- 
nouncing, by arranging the words thus ; 
" The Romans underftood liberty as well, at 
^^ leaft, as we." The fadt is, with refpeft to 
fuch adverbs, as, onlyy wholly^ at leafty and 
the reft of that tribe, that in common dif- 
courfe, the tone and cmphafis we ufe in pro- 
nouncing them, generally fcrves to fliow their 
reference, and to make the meaning clear \ an4 
hence, wc acquire a habit of throwing them in 
loofely in the courfe of a period. But, in 
writing, where a man fpeaks to the eye, and 
not to the ear, he ought to be more accurate j 
and fo to conne6t thofe adverbs with the words, 
which they qualify, as to put his meaning out 
of doubt upon the firft infpeftion. 

Secondly, When a circumftance is inter- 
pofcd in the middle of a Sentence, it fome- 
times requires attention how to place it, fo a§ 
to diveft it of all ambiguity. For inftance ; 
'* Are thefe defigns" (fays Lord Bolingbroke, 
Piflert. on Parties, Dedicat.) '^ Are thefc 
*^ deHgns which any man, who is born a Bri- 
^^ ton^ in any circvimftaaccs, in any fituation, 

<' oiJght 


L E c T« ^' ought to be afliamed or afraid to avow ? 



Here we are left at a loTs, whether thefe words, 
** in any tircumjiances^ in any fttuatiBny* are 
connefted with, " a man born in Britain, in 
•* any circumftanccs, or fituation," or with that 
man's ♦* avowing his deOgns, in any circum- 
*' ftances, or fituation, into which he may be 
^« brought ?*' If the latter, as feems moft 
probable, was intended to be the meaning, 
the arrangement ought to bavC been condufted 
thus : " Are thefe deligns, which any man 
^< who is born a Briton, ought to be afhamed 
*^ or afraid, in any circumftances, in any fitua^ 
«' tion, to avow ?'' But, 

Thirdly, Still more attention is required to 
the proper difpofitioh of the relative pronouns, 
%xjhOy whichy what, whoje^ and of all thofe par- 
ticles which exprefs the connection of the parts 
of Speech with one another. As all realbning 
depends upon this conneftion, we cannot be 
too accurate and precife here. A fmall error 
may overcloud the meaning of the whole Sen- 
tence ; and even, where the meaning is intel- 
ligible, yet where thefe relative particles arc 
out of their proper place, we always find fome- 
thing awkward and disjointed in the Strufture 
of the Sentence. Thus, in the Spedator, 
(No. 54.) " This kind of wit," fays Mr. 
^ddifon, *5 was very much in vogue among 



** our countrymen, about an age or two ago, l e c t. 
** who did not praftife it for any oblique rea- 
" fon, but purely for the fake of being witty/' 
We are at no lofe^ about the meaning herej 
but the conftrudtion would evidently be mend- 
ed by difpofing of the circumftance, " about 
" an age or two ago," in fuch a. manner as 
not to feparate the relative wbo, from its ante- 
cedent our countrymen ; in this way : " About 
" an age or two ago, this kind of wit was very 
** much in vogue among our countrymen, 
who did not praiStife it for any oblique rea- 
fon, but purely for the fake of being witty/' 
Speftator, No. 412. . " We no where meet 
'^ with a more glorious and pleafing ihow ia 
'* nature, than what appears in the heavens at 
" the rifing and fctting of the fun, which is 
^' wholly made up of thofc different ftains of 
,'^ light, that (how themfelves in clouds of a 
** different fituation/' Which is here defigned 
to conneft with the word fl)0Wy as its antece- 
dent ; but it ftands fo wide from it, that with* 
out a careful attention to the fenfe, we fhould 
be naturally led, by the rules of fyntax, to 
refer it to the rifing and fctting of the fun, 
or to the fun itfclfi and, hence, an indiftinft- 
nefs is thrown over the whole Sentence. The 
following paffage in bifhop Sherlock's Ser- 
mons (VoL II. Serm. I5>)isftill more cenfur- 
able : *' It is folly to pretend to arm ourfclves 
^^ againft the accidents of life, by heaping up 

" treafures. 

'^7^ StRtJCtlTRE OiP SEtJfENdES; 

** treafures, whith nothing can protefl: tts 
" againft, but the good providence of our 
" Heavenly Father." IVhicbj always refers 
.grammatically to the immediately preceding 
-fubftantive, which here is, " treafures j" and 
this would make nonfenfe of the Whole Period. 
Every one feels this impropriety. The Sen- 
tence ought to have ftood thus : " It is folly 
*^ to pretend, by heaping up treafures, to arm 
** ourfclves againft the accidents of life, which 
." nothing can proteft us againft, but the good 
*' providence of dur Heavenly Father." 

Of the like nature is the following inac^ 
Curacy of Dean Swift's. He is recommend^ 
ing to young clergymen, to write their fermons 
fully and diftinftly. " Many,'* fays he, " aA 
*' fa dircftly contrary to this method> thar^ 
** from a habit of faving time and paper, 
** which they acquired at the univerfity, they 
** write in fo diminutive a manner, that they 
^« can hardly read what they have ^ritten.'^ 
He certainly does not mean^ that they had ac* 
squired time and paper at the univerfity. But 
ihat they had acquired this habit there ; and 
therefore hia words ought to have run thus t 
^' From a habit which they have acquired at 
*• the univerfity of faving time and paper, 
" they write in fo diminutive a manner." la 
another paflTage, the fame author has left his 
Cleaning altogether uncertain, by mifplacing 

a re- 


t relative. It is in the conclufion of his letter 
to a member of parliament, conGcrfling the 
Sacramental Teft : ** Thus I have fairly given 
*' you, Sir, my own opinion, as well as that 
*' of a great majdrity of both houfes here, 
** relating to this weighty affair ; upon which 
" I am confident yo<i may fecurcly reckon*" 
Now I alk, what it is he would have his cor- 
refpondent to reckon upon, fecurely ? The na- 
tural conftruftion leads to ihefe words^ ** this 
" weighty affair." But, as it would be dif- 
ficult to make any fenfc of this^ it is mord 
probable he meant that the majority of both 
koiifes might be fecurely reckoned upon; 
though certainly this meaning, as the word:sl 
ate arranged, is obfcurely exprcffed. The 
Sentence would be amended by arranging 
thus : ** Thus, Sir, I have given you my own 
*^ opinion, relating to this weighty affair, as 
^^ well as that of a great majority of both houfes 
** here ; upon which I am confident you may 
" fecurely reckon,*' 

Sevsral other inftances might be given 1 
but I reckon thofe which I have produced fuf- 
ficient to make the rule underftood ; that, in 
the conftruftion of Sentences, one of the firft 
thin^gs to be attended to, is, the marfhalling 
of the words in fuch order as fhall moft 
rfearly mark the relation of the feveral parts 
*f the Sentence to one another; particulvly, 
' that 


L B c T. that adverbs fhall always be made to adher€ 
clofely to the words which they are intended 
to qualify; that, where a circumftance is 
thrown in, it (hall never hang loofe in the 
midft of a period, but be determined byits. 
place to one or other member of it ; and that 
every relative word which is ufed, fhall in.- 
ftantly prefent its antecedent to th^ mind of 
the reader, without the leaft obfcurity. I 
have mentioned thefe three cafes, becaufe I 
think they are the moft frequent occafions of 
ambiguity creeping into Sentences. 

With regard to Relatives, I muft farther 
obferve, that obfcurity often arifes from the 
too frequent repetition of them, particularly 
of the pronouns who, and they, and them, and 
theirs, when we have occalion to refer to dif- 
ferent perfons -, as, in the following fcntence 
of archbifhop Tillotfon (Vol. I. Serm. 42.) : 
•^ Men look with an evil eye upon the good 
*' that is in others ; and think that their repu- 
** tation obfcures ihem, and their commend- 
*' able qualities ftand in their light; and 
*^ therefore they do what they can to call a 
cloud over them> that the bright (hining 
of their virtues may not obfcure them*'* 
This is altogether carelefs writing. It ren- 
ders ftyle often obfcure, always embarraned 
and inelegant. When we find thefe peribnal 
pronouns crowding too faft upon us, we have 





often no method left, but to throw the whole^ ^ ^ c t. 
fcntchcc into fomc other form> which may 
Hvoid thofe frequent references to perlons who 
have before been mentiofled; 

All languages are liable to ambiguities; 

Quin^ilian gives us fome inftances in thti 

Latin, arifing from faulty arrangement. A 

man, he tells us, ordered, by his will, to have 

crcfted for him, after his death, " Statuam 

" auream haftani tehentem j'* upoh which 

arofc a difpute at law, whether the whol0. fta- 

tue, or the fpear only^ was to be of gold ? The 

fame author obfcrves, very properly, that a 

fcntence is always faulty, when the collocation 

©f the words is ambiguous, though the fenfe 

can be gathered. If any one fhould fay^ 

*^ Ch/emctem audivi pcrcuflifle Demeam>" 

this is ambiguous bx)th in fenfe arid ftrufturej 

whether Chremes or Demea .garve the blow^ 

But if this expreflion were ufed, '^. Sc vidifle 

*' hominem librum fcribentem," although the 

tneaning be clears yet Quinftilian infifts that 

the arrangement is wrong. - " Nam)'* fays hcj 

** etiamfi librum ab homine fcribi pateat, non 

^Vcerte hominem a libro, male tamcn com- 

^* poruerat, feceri^tque ambiguum qiianturh iii 

^* ipfo fuit.'* indeed, to have the relation o^ 

fevery word and member of .a fehtenc'ib marked 

in the moft proper and diftindt nianner, gives 

hot clearncfs Only, but grace and beauty to A 

Voi* h T fentcnce^ 



L E^c T. fcntcnce, making the mind pafs fmoothly and 
agreeably along all the pi^rts of it. 

I PRQCEED now to tbc 'fecond qtiality of a 
well-arranged fentcnce, which I termed its 
Unity. This is a capital property. In every 
compofition, of whatever kind, fome degree 
of unity is required, in order to render it 
beautifuU There muft be always fome con- 
neftihg principle imdngth^ parts. Some one 
©bje6t muft reign and be predominant. This, 
as I Ihall hereafter fliew, holds in Hiftory, in 
Epic and Dramatic Poetry, and in all Ora- 
fions. But mod; of all, in a fingle fentence, 
is required the ftrifteft unity. For the very 
nature of a fenttnce implies one propolition to 
be expreffed,. It may confift of parts, in- 
deed 5 but thefe parts muft be fo clofely bound 
together, as to make the impreffion upon thd 
mind, of one objeft, not of many. Now, in 
©rder to prtferve this unity of a fentence, the 
following rules muft be obferved :» 

in the firft place, duritig the c'ourfc of the 
fentence, the fcene ftiould be changed as little 
as poffibk. We fliould not be hurried by 
iTudden tranfiitions from perfon to j^rfon, nor 
fronri fubjeft to fubjedt. There is commonlyy 
in every fentence, foitic perfon or thing, 
which is the governirtg word. This fhould be 
continued fo, if poffibk, from the beginning- 

I . ta I 


te the end of it. Should I exprefs myfelf t b c t. 
thus : " Aftei- wc cariie to. anchor, they put 
^ me on (horci where I ^aS welcomed by all 
" my friends^ who received the with the 
^' greateft kihdhefs." In this fchtence, thoUgh 
the objeffcs contained in it have a fufficient 
connexion with each other, yet^ by this man- 
ner of reprefcnting them^ by Ihifting fo oftert 
both the place and th^ perfon^ wfy and tbey^ 
and /, aiid wbo^ they appear in fuch a dif-^ 
united viewj that the fenfe'of connedlion is 
almoft loft. The fentetice is reftored to its 
jpiroper unity, by turning it after the follow- 
ing manner : ^' Having come to an anchor, I 
*• was put on fhore, where I was welcomed by 
*' all my friends> and received with the great- 
*^' eft kindneis.'* Writers who tranfgrefs this 
rule, for the moft part tranfgrcfs> at the fame 

A SECOND rule; hever to crowd iiitd one 
fertteftcei things which have lb little connec- 
tion, that they could bear to be divided intd 
two or three fentences. The violation of thii 
rule never ftils to hurt and difpleafe a reader; 
Its effeft, indeed, is fo badi that, of the two^ 
it IS the fafcr extreme, to err rather by too 
many Ihort fentences, than by one that is over- 
loaded artd embarraflcd; Examples abound 
in authors. I ftiall produce fome, to juftify 
what I now fay; " Archbiftiop Tillotfon," 

T a ftys 


fays an Author of the Hiftory of England^ 
*' died in this year. He was exceedingly bc- 
** loved both by King William and Que^n 
'* Mary, who nominated Dr. Tcnnifon, Bifhpp 
" of Lincoln, to fucceed him." Who would 
cxpeft the latter part of this fentence to fol-; 
low, in confequencc of the former i " He 
** was exceedingly beloved by both King and 
*^ Queen," is the propofition of the fentcnce : 
we look for fome proof of this, or : at Icaft 
fomething related to it, to follow 5 when we 
are on aTuddcn carried off to a new |>rppofl- 
tion, " who nominated Dr. Tennifon„to.fuc- 
'^ cced him/' The following is ,from Mid- 
dleton's Life of Cicero: " In this uneaff 

ftate, both of his public and private life; 

Cicero was oppreffcd by a new and cruel 
«' afflidion, the death of his belovjed dao^ttr, 
" Tullia ', which happened foon after her di^ 
*^ vorce from Dolabella j whofe manners and 
*^' humours were entirely difagreeable to her." 
The principal objeft in this fentence is, the 
death of Tullia, which was the caufe of her 
father's affliftion j the date of it, as happen- 
ing foon after her divorce from Dolabella^ 
may- enter into the fentence with propriety; 
but the fiibjunftion of Dolabella's charaftcr is 
foreign to the main objeft 5 and breaks the 
unity and compadnefs of the fentence totally, 
by fetting a new pifture before the reader. 
The following fentence, from a tranflation^.of 
* - r Plutarch, 




Plutarch, is ftill worfe: *« Their march," fays l e c t, 
the Author, fpeaking of the Greeks under 
Alexander, " their march, was through an 
**' uncultivated country, whofe favage inhabits 
** ants fared hardly, having no other rjehes 
f* than a breed of lean iheep, whofe flelh 
f^ was rank and unfavoury, by reafon of thei^ 
f continual feeding upon fea-fifli." Here th^ 
fcene is changed .upon :us again and again. 
The. march pf the . Greeks, the defcription of 
the. inhabitants through whojc country they 
travelled, the account of their fheep, and the 
caufe of their Iheep being -ill tailed food, 
form a. junibi^ of objefts, flightly related 
to each other, which :the reader cannot, with- 
out- mych difficulty, compr.ehe;id ynder one 
view. , ^ 

* These examples have been taken from {tnr 
tences of no great length, yet over-crowded^ 
Authors who deal in long fentences, are very 
apt to be faulty in this article. ""One need 
only open Lord Clarendon's Hiftory, to find 
examples every where. .The long, involved, 
and intricate fentences of that Author, are the 
greateft blemifh of, his cortipofijian i though 
in other refpedls, as a Hiftpriaq, he has con- 
fiderable merit. In later, and mpre correft 
writers than Lord Clarendon, we find a period 
fometimes running out fo far, and compre- 
iicnding fo many partioularj, as to be more 

T 3 properly 


L E c T. properly a difcourfc than ^ fentcnc^, Takci^ 
for an inftancc, the following from Sir Wil-» 
liam Temple, in his Eflajr upon Poetry; 
^^ The ufual aeceptation takes Profit and 
*' Pleafure for two different tl^ingg j aad not 
^' only calls the followers or votaries of them 
*' by the feveral names of Bufy and Idle Menj 
^^ but diftinguifhes the faculties qf the mind^ 
f^ that are converfant about them, calling the 
^^ operations of the firft, Wifdom i and of the 
?' other. Wit ; which Js a Saxon word, ufcd tq 
^' expref^ what the Spaniards and Italians call 
" Ingenhj and the French, EffrU^ both from 
«* the Latin i though I think Wit niore parti*! 
^' cularly fignifies that of Poetry, as mayoc.^ 
^^ cur in Remarks on the .Runic Language/^ 
When one arrives at the end of fuch a puzzled 
fentfence, he is furprifed to find himfelif got to 
fo great a diftance fronti the pbjefb with wbicl^ 
lie at firft fct out. 

LoKp Shaftsbury, often betrayed intCi 
faults by his love of magnificence, ihall afford 
Vs the ne^t example. It is in his Rhapfody, 
where he is defcribing the cold regions : ** At 
i* length,'* fays he, " the Sun approaching, 
f' melts the fnow, fets longing men at liberty, 
^ and affords theni means and time to make 
f' provifion againft the next returi> of Cold." 
This firft fentence is correft enough; but h? 
goes on : " |t breaks the icy fetters of the 



*^ main, where vaft fea-monfters pierce through ^ ^^ t. 
*' floating iflands, with arms which can with- 
*' ftand the cryftal rock j whiift others, who 
*' of themfelves feem great as iflands, are by 
'* their bulk alone arnied againfl: all but Man, 
^^ whofe fuperiority over creatures of fuch ftu- 
* ^^ pendous fize and force, fhould make him 
miodfiil of his privilege of Reafon, and 
force him humbly to adore the great Com- 
pofcr of thefe wondrous frames, and the Au-» 
thor of his own fuperior wifdom/' No- 
thing can be more unhappy or embarrafled 
than this fentence ; the worfc too, as it is 
intended to be defcriptive, where every thing 
ihould be clear. It forms no diftinft image, 
whatever. The //, at the beginning, is am- 
biguous, whether it mean the Sun or the Cold. 
The objed is changed three times in the fen-, 
tencej beginning with the Sun, which breaks 
the icy fetters of the mains then the Sea- 
monfters bcconae the principal perfonagi;3f 
and laftly, by a very unexpedled tranfition, 
Man is brought into view, and receives a long 
and fcrious admonition before the fentence 
clofcs. 1 do not at prefect infill on the im- 
propriety of fuch expreffions as, Gcd's being the 
€omp(jfer of Frames \ and the Sea-monfter^ 
having arms tbaf withftand rocks. Shaftfbury'$ 
ftrcngth lay in reafoning and fentimcnt, more 
than in defcription ; however much his de- 
feriptions have been fomctimcs admired. 

T 4 ? SHALL 



* I SHALL only give one inftance more on 
this headj^from Dean Swift ; in his Propofal, 
tod, for cdrrcfting the Englilh Language : 
where, in place of a fentence, he has giveri a 
loofe diflertation upon fevcraj fubiefts, Speak-r 
Jngofthe progrels of our language, after the 
time of Cromwell : *^ To this fucceeded,'"^ 
fays he, " that licentioufnefs, which entered 
•' with the Reftoration, and, from infeftihg 
^* our religion and morals, fell to corrupt our 
*' language j which lad wjjs not like to be 
^' much improved by thofe, who at that time 
^^ made up the court of King Charles the Se- 
^' cond ; either fuch as had followed him in 
^' his banifliment, or who had been altogether 
^' converfant in the dialeft of thefe fanatic 
^* times; qr yoyng men who had been edu- 
^' cated in the f^me country : fo that the 
^' Court, which ufed to be the ftandard of 
f' corrcftnefs* and propriety of fpeech, was 
^^ then, and I think has ever fince continued, 
^* the worft fchqol in England for that accom- 
^' plilhment ; and fo will remain, till better 

*^ care be taken in the education of our nobi- 

• • • • • "■ * 

*' lity, that they may fet out into the world' 
^^ with fome foundation of literature, in order 
f5 to qualify them for pattei:ns of politenefs."' 
How many different fafts, reafonings, and 
Obfervations, are here prefentcd to the mind 
^ once! and yet fo linked togethier by the 
^uthor/ th^t they all make parts of a fentence, 


•» #1- ' * 


which admits of no greater divifion in point- l b c t* 
Ing, than a fenriicolon ' between any of its 
members ? Having mentioned pointing, I 
Ihall here take notice, tliatit is in vain to pro- 
pofe, by arbitrary punftuatjon, to amend 
the defedts of a Sentence, to corredt its ambi- 
jguity, or to prevent its confufiop. For com- 
mas, cplons, and points, do not make the pro- 
per divifions of thought; but only ferve to 
mark thofe which arife from the tenor of the 

• , » 

Author's cxpreflion : and, therefore, they arc 
proper or not, juft according as they corrcfpond 
to the natural divifions of the fenfe. When 
they are inferted in wrong places^ they defervc^ 
\ and will nneet with,, no regard. 

I PROCEED to a third rule, for prefcrving the 
Unity of Sentences ; which is, to ke^p clear 
pf all Parenthefes in the middle of them. On 
fome opcafions, thpfe may have a fpirited ap- 
pearance J as prompted by a certain vivacity 
pf^ thought, whiph c^n glancf happily afide, 
as Jt is going along. But, for thp mod part, 
their efFeft is extremely bad^ being a fort oif 
wheels within wheels j fentences in the midfl; 
pf fentences \ the perplexed method of dif- 
pofing of fome thought, which a writer wants 
art to introduce in its propcf plape. It wer^ 
needlefs to give many inftances, as they occur 
fo often among incorrejft writers. . I Ihall pro- 
duce one iiQXSi Liord BoUngbrokc, the rapidity 



of wbofe genius, and manner of writing, hC'f 
trays him frequently into inaccuracies of this 
fort. It is in the Introdu£tion to his Idea 
of a Patriot King, where he writes thus : 
"It feems to me, that, in order to maintain 
*' the fyftem of the world, at a certain point, | 
*' far below that of ideal perfedtion (for we 
*' are made capable of conceiving what we 
** are incapable of attaining), but, however, 
«' fufBcient, upon the whole, to conftitute a 
** ftate eafy and happy, or at the worft, to- 
** lerable; I fay, it feems to me, that the 
** Author of Nature has thought fit to mingle, 
*' from time to time, among the focietics of 
•* men, a few, and but a few, of thofc on 
** whom he is gracioufly pleafed to beftow a 1 
*' larger portion of the Ethereal Spirit, than 
** is given, in the ordinary courfe of his go- 
*' vernment, to the fons of men.*' A very 
bad Sentence this ; into which, by the help of 
a Parenthefis, and other interjefted circum- 
ftan<^cs, his Lordfliip had contrived to thruft 
fo many things that he is forced to begin the 
conftruftion again with the phrafe J /ay; which, 
whenever it occurs, may be always affumed 
as a fure mark of a clumfy ill-conftru6ted 
Sentence i excufable in fpeaking, where the 
greatcft accuracy is not e^fpefted, but in po- 
iifhed writing, unpardonable. 

I SHALL add only one rule more for the 
ypity of a Sentence, which is> to bring it 

• always 


glways to a full and perfeft clofc. Every thing t e c t, 
that is one, ihould have a beginning, a middkj 
^nd an eqd. I need not take notice, that ati 
iinfini(h^d Sentence is no Sentence at all, ac^ 
cording tq any grammatical rule. But very 
often we nieet with Sentences, that are, fo to 
fpeak, more than finiihed, Wh^n we hav« 
^rri ve4 at what we expe£ted was to be the con<» 
clu(ion, when we have come to the word oi\ 
which the mind is naturally led, by what went 
before, to reftj unexpeftedly, fqme circum* 
ftance pops out, which ought to have been 
omitted, or tp have b>een difpofed of elfe- 
where ; but which is left lagging behind, like 
? tail adjefted to the Sentence j fomewhat that^ 
W Mr, Pope defcribes the Alexandrine line, 

^* Like a wounded fnake, drags its flow length along.'^ 

All thefc adjeftions to the proper clofe, dif? 
figure a Sentence extremely. They give it a| 
Ume ungraceful air, and, in particular, they 
break its Unity. Dean Swift, for inftance, iti 
his Letter to a Young Clergyman, Ipeaking 
oT Cicerp's writings, cxpreffes himfelf thus : 
^^ With thefe writings young divines arc 
^' more converfant, than with thofe of Dcr 
*' mofthenes, who, by many degrees, excelled 
" the other J at lead, .as an orator." Here 
the natural clofe of the Sentence is at thefe 
Words, " excelled the other.*' Thefe words 
PPiiclude the propofition -, we look for no more j 


«-. ■ vi 


and the circumftance added, " at leaft, as an 
*' orator," comes in with a very halting paccJ 
How much more compadt would the Sentence 
have been, if turned thus : ^* With thefe wrk^ 
•* ings, young divines are more converfant 
** than with thofe of Demofthenes, who, by 
** many degrees, as an orator at leaft, excelled 
♦* the other.*' In the following Sentence; 
from Sir William Temple, the adjeffcrbn to the 
Sentence is altogether foreign to it.' Speak- 
ing of Burnet's Theory of the Earth,' and Fon- 
tenelle's Plurality of Worlds, " The firft/' 
fays he, " could'not end his learned treatifei 
** without a panegyric of modern learning, in 
*^ comparifon of the antient; and the other 
** falls fo grofsly into the cenfure.of- the old 
^^ poetry, and preference of the new, that, I 
*' could not read either of thefe ftrains with- 
*' out fomc indignation ; ^ which no qualitf 
** among men is fo apt to raife in me as felf^ 
^' fufficiericy/* The wcxrd V iDdignation,** 
concluded the Sentence'; the lafl: member, 
^^ which no quality an^ong men is fo apt to 
^^ raife in me as felf-fufi;ciency," is a.propofi- 
tion altogether new, added after the proper 
4;:lofe. » 



■T! ; , N> 

L fi C T U R ^ XIL 


i ^ 


HAVING treated of Perfpicuity and 
Unity, as neceffary to be ftudied in 'the 
StruAiire of Sentences, I proceed to the third 
quality of a corrcft Sentence, which I termed 
Strength. By this, I mean, fuch a difpofition 
of the fev^ral \^ords and members, as ihall 
oringout.tbc fenfe to the beft advantage; as 
ftall render the inhpreffion, which the Period 
is dcfigftcd to make, moft full and complete ; 
and give every word, and every imember, their 
due weight and force. The two' former qua^ 
Hties of Perfpicuity and Unity, are, no doiibt; 
abfolutely neceffary to the production of thii 
tffcft;^ but more is ftill requilite. ^ For a 
'Sentence may be clear omoughj itmay alfo 
be compaft enough, in all its .parts, or havt 
the requifite unity ; and yet, by ifome unfa- 
vourable circumftance in the ftructure, it may 
fail in that ftrength or livelincfs of impfefilon, 


L E c T, 

* 1 


L E c T. which a more happy arrangement would have 

The .firft rule which I (hall give, for pro- 
moting the Strength of a Sentence^ is, to divcK 
it of all redundant 'words. Thefc may, fome- 
times, be confident with a confiderable degree 
both of Clearnefs and Unity i but they are 
always enfeebling. They make the Sentence 
move along tardy and encumbered; 

Eft brevitate opus, ut currat fenteiitia, neu ie 
Impediat verbis, laiTas onerantibus aures *» 

It is a general maxim, that any word8> which 
do not add fome importance to the meaning 
of a Sentence, always fpoil it. They cannot 
be fuperfluous, without being hurtful. ** Ob- 
*' ftat," fays Quinftilian, *^ quicquid non 
" adjuvat." All that can be eafily fupplied 
in the mind, i% better left out in the exprefiioo* 
Thus : " Content with deferving a triumphi 
^* he refufed the honour of it," is better Lan^ 
guage than to fay, ** Being content with de- 
^^ ferving a triumph, he refufed the honour 6f 
.** it." I confider it, therefore, as one of the 
tnofk ufcful exercifes of corredion^ upon re* 
viewing what we have written or compofed^ 
to contrad that round-about method of ex^ 


* ** Con cife your dif^ion, let your fenfe be clear, 

*' Nor^ with a weight of words^ fatigue the ear/^ 




preflion, and to lop off thofe ufelefs excref- i* e c t. 
cences which are commonly found in a firft 
draught. Here a fevere eye fliould be em- 
ployed i and we ihall always find our Sen- 
tences acquire more vigour and energy when 
thus retrenched ; provided always, that we run 
not into the extreme of pruning fo very clofe> 
as to give a hardnefs and drynefs to ftyle. For 
here, as in all other things, there is a due me- 
dium. Some regard, though not the princi- 
pal, muft be had to fullnefs and fwelling of 
found. Some leaves muft be left to furround 
and Ihelter the fruit. 

As Sentences ihould be cleared of redundant 
words, fo alfo of redundant members. A^ 
every word ought to prefent a new idea, fo 
every member ought to contain a new thoughts 
Oppofed to this, ftands the fault we fometimes 
meet with, of the lail member of a period, 
being no other than the echo of the former, 
or the repetition of it in fomewhat a different 
form. For example j Ipeaking of Beauty, 
" The very firft difcovery of it," fays Mr. Ad- 
difon, <* ftrikes the mind with inward joy, 
*^ and fpreads delight through all its facul- 
" ties." (No. 412.) And elfewhere, *' It is 
*' impofiible for us to behold the divine works 
*^ with coldnefs or indifference, or to furvey 
*^ fo many beauties, without a fecret fatisfac- 
" tion and complacency," (No. 413.) Inr 



L E C T. 
' XIL 

both thefe infl:ances> little or nothing is added 
by the fccond member of the Sentence to what 
was already exprefledin the firft: And though 
the free and flowing manner of fuch ah author 
as Mr. Addifon, and the graceful harmony of 
his period, may palliate fuch negligences i 
yet, in general, it holds, that ttyle, freed 
from this prolixity, appears both more ftrong, 
and more beautiful. The attention becomes 
remifs, the mind falls into inaftion, when words 
ere multiplied without a correfponding multi-^ 
plication of ideas» 


After removing Superfluities, the fecond 
direftioft t give, for promoting -the Strength 
of a Sentence, ia, to attend-pafticularly to the 
tjfe of copulatives, relatives, and all the par- 
ticles employed for tranfition and conncftion* 
Thefe little words, hut^ and^ whichy wbofe^ 
where, &c. are frequently the moft important 
words of any ; they are the joints or hinges 
upon which all Sentences turn, and, of courfe, 
much, both of their gracefulnefs and ftrengthi 
muft depend upon fuch particles. The -va^ 
rieties in ufing them are, indeed, fo infinite, 
that no particular fyftem of rules, refped- 
ing them, can be given. Attention to the 
praftice of the moft accurate writers, joined 
with frequent trials of the different efFeSs, 
produced by a^ different ufage of thofe pai*- 

• . tieleJj 


tides, muft here direft us *. Some obferva- l e c t. 

. . XII. . 

tions I (hall mention, which have occurred to 
me as ufeful, without pretending to exhauft the 

What is called fplicting of partides> or 
feparating a prepofition from the noun which 
it governs, is always to be avoided* As if I 
fliould fay, " Though virtue borrows no allift* 
" ance from, yet it may often be accompanied 
** by, the advantages of. fortune." In fuch- 
inftances, we feel a fort of pain, from the re- 
vulfion, or violent feparation of two things, 
which, by their nature, fhould be clofely 
united. We are put to a ftand in thought ; 
being obliged to reft for a little on the prepo- 
fition by itfelf, Which, at tfief^me time, carries 
no fignificancy, till it is joined to its proper 
fubftantive noun* 

Some writers needlelsly multiply demonftra^ 
tive and relative particles* by the frequent 
life of fuch phrafeology as this; '^ There is 
nothing which difgufts us fooner than the 
empty pomp of Language.*' In introducing 
a fubjeft, or laying down a propofition, tp 
which we demand particular attention, this 
fort of ftyle is very proper 5 but, in the prdi-^ 

* On this head, Dr. Lowth*s Short Introduftion to 
Hngliih Grammar defervies to be confalted ; where feveral 
niceties of th^.Language are well pointed out. 

Vol. I. U nary 



I- E c T. fiary current of difeourfe, it is better to ex* 
prefs ourfeJves more (imply and (hortty t " No- 
^* thing diigufts us fopner than the empty 
*' pomp of Language/' 

Other writers make a pra<?tice of omitting 
the Relative, in a phrafe of a different kind 
from the former, where they think the mean- 
ing ean be underftood without it. A», "The 
" man f love.'*— " The dominions we pof- 
^' feffcd, and the conquefts we made." But 
though this elliptical ftyle be intelligible, and 
is allowable in converfation and epiftolary 
Writing, yet, in all writings of a ferious or 
dignified kii>d, it is ungraceful. There, the 
Relative fliould always be inferted in its proper 
place, and the conftruftion filled up : *' The 
*' man whom I love." — ** The dominions 
" which we poffefled, and the conquefts which 
•* we made." 

With regard to the Copulative Particle^ 
andy which occurs fo frequently in all kinds of 
Gompofition, feveral obfervations are to be 
♦nade. Firft, It is evident, that the unneeef- 
fary repetition of it enfeebles ftyle. It has 
the' fame fort of effcft, as the frequent ufe qli 
the vulgar phrafe, andjo^ when one is telling a 
ftory in common cooverfatign.. We (hall take 
^ Sentence from Sir William Temple^ ft)r 9A 
inftance. He is peaking pf the reftnemeiit 

-» of 



of the Fi^ench Language : •* The academy fet 
'•^ lip by •CaTdinalRickelieuj t© amufe^the wits 
" of that age artd country^ and divert them 
^ from raking m^o his politics and minillry^ 
brougiit thh in-to vogue; and the French 
wits feave^ for chrs iaft age> been wholly 
** turned to the refineaicnt of their Style and 
*^ Language ; and, indeedj with fuch fuccefs, 
** thait it can hardJy be 'equalled,, and run^s 
^^ cqnaaUy tiirough their yerfe, and their profe." 
Here arc oo fewer than eight «w^y in one fen* 
tonce^ This agreeable wracer too often makes 
his icDtenrcs drag in this manner, by a carelefs 
muitipJication of Copulatives. It is ftrange 
hofw a wriitcr, fo accurate as Dean Swift, fhould 
hav« ftuaiibicd on fo innproper an application 
oF this particle, as be lias made in the fol^ 
lowing fentence ; Eflay on the Fates of Cler- 
gymen. " There is_ no talent fo ufeful to- 
^ wards rifing in the world, or which puts 
^^ 4Ben more out of the readi of fortune, than 
^ Jthat quality generally poflcft by theduUeft 
^ fort of people, and is, in commoit Unguagei 
f^ -called Difcretion ^ a fpecies -of low^r pru-^ 
*' dence, by the afliftance of which," &c. By 
the infertion of, and is, in place of, which is, 
he has not only clogged the Sentence, but 
even made it ungrammaticaK 

BeT, in the iaext plqice, it is /isrorthy of ob*^ 
fervation, that though the natural ufe of the 
• ' U a con^ 

tgz StRUCTlJRE OF SEKTfeNGfiff* 

conjunftion, artdy be to join objefts togethefj 
and thereby, as one would thinks to rhake 
their connexion more clofe ; yet, in fadt, hy 
dropping the conjundlionj we often mark a 
clofer connexion, a quicker fucceflion of ob- 
'je<5ts, than when it is inferted between them. 
Longinds makes this^ remark ; which, from 
many inftances, appears to be juft : ** Vcni, 
" vidi, vici *," exprefles, with more fpirit, 
the rapidity and quick fucceflion of conqueft, 
than if connedling particles had been ufed. 
So, in the following defcription of a rout in 
Caefar's Commentaries : ** Noftri, emiflis pilis, 
" gladiis rem gerunt; repente pod tergum 
*' equitatus cernitur; cohortes aliae appro- 
•^ pinquant. Hoftes terga vertunt j fugienti- 
'^ bus equitesoccurrunti fit magna caedes f*. 
Bell. Gall. 1. 7. 

Hence, it follows, that when, on the other 
hand, we feck to prevent a quick tranfition 
from one objeft to another, when we arc 
making fome enumeration, in which we wifli 
that the objcdts (hould appear as diftinft from 

• ■" I came, I faw, I conquered*" 

f ** Our men I after having di -^charged their javelins, 
" attack with iword in hand: of a fudden, the cavalry 
*' make their appearance behind ; other bodies of men 
** are feen drawing near : the enemies turn their backs ; 
*^ the horfe meet them in their flighty a great flaughter 
** enfucs.'* 

- • ■ 




each other as poflible, and that the mind fliould l b^c t. 
reft, for a moment, on each objeft by itfelf j 
in this cafe. Copulatives may be multiplied 
-with peculiar advantage and grace. As when 
lyO/d Bolingbrokc fays, *^ Such a man might 
*^ fall a viftim to power j but truth, and rea- 
*^ fon, and liberty, would fall with him." 
In the fame manner, Caefar defcribes an en- 
gagement with the Nervii : ^' His equiti- 
" bus facile pulfis ac proturbatis, incredibile 
*^ celeritate ad. flumen decurrerunt; ut pene 
*' uno tempore, et ad filvas, et in flumine, et 
^^ jam in manibus noftris, hoftes viderentur *•" 
Bell. Gall, 1, 2. Here, although he is de- 
fcribing a quick fucceflion of events, yet, as 
it is his intention to Ihow in how many places 
the enemy feemed to be at one time, the Co» 
pulative is very happily redoubled, in order 
to paint more ftrongly the diftinftion of thefc 
fpveral places. 

- This attention to the feveral cafes, when it 
is prpper to omit, and when to redouble the 
Copulative, is of confiderable importance to 
all who ftudy eloquence. For, it is a remark- 
able particularity in Language, that the omif- 

* ** The enemy, having cafily beat oiF, and fcattered 
** this body of horfc, ran down with incredible celerity to 
*« the river; fo that, almoft at one moment of time, they 
** appeared to be in the woods, and in the river, and in the 
<*. inidft of our troops.** 


^ %n '^' f«3n of a- conncfting particle fhoold forncrimes" 
lerve to make ofegefts atppear more etofely cor»- 
irefted ; and that the repetition of it fliould 
d^ftingiaifti and feparate them, in fome nrrea?- 
fwrc, from each other. Hence, the omiflToit 
of it is ufed ta denote rapidity j and the* repe- 
tition of it is deffgned' tO' retard^ a-nd ta aggra- 
vate. The reafon feems to- be, that, in* rhe 
former cafe, the mind' is fiippofedto be htirric^. 
fe faft through a quick fucceffion of objetfts, ' 
that it has not leifure tO' point out their eon- 
ncxion-j it drops the CopulariveB in its hurry 9 
and crowds the whole ferie& together, a^ if it 
were but one objecSfe. Whereas when^ we en<iw 
mcrate, with a view to aggravate, the mind h 
fuppofed to proceed! with a more flow and fo-. 
lemn pace 5 it marks fully the relation of 
each objedtto that which fucceeds itj and, by 
joining them together with fev^raJ Copulatives^ 
makes you perceive, that the obje6fcs> though 
connedted, are yet, in themfelves, diftinfti 
that they arc raany,^ not one.. Obferve, for rn- 
ftance, ia the following, enumeration^ made 
by the Apoftle Paul, what additional weight 
and diftinftnefs is givea to each pauticular,, by 
the repetition- of a conjun<5lion^ " I axn/per- 
fwaded, that neither death, nor life, nor 
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor 
things prefent, nor things to. come,, nor 
height, nor depth, nor any other creature,. 
*' ihall be able tg feparate us from the love of 

" God." 



^ God/* Rom. viiiv3,8> 39. Samuch with ^ e c t. 
i^cgard to the ufe of Copalativci. 

1 PROCBBD to a third rule, for promctrng 
the rtfeflgth of st Sentence, which is,, to difpofe 
of the capital wOFd, or Words, iii thac place of 
the Sentence, where they will make the fulled 
imprefKoff. That fach capital words there are 
m every Sentence, on which the meaning 
principally reft«> every one muft fee > and that 
thefc words fhouJd poflfefs a confpicuous and 
diftinguifhed plaee^ is eq-uaily plain. Indeed^ 
tfiat place of the Sentence wbeire they will 
make the beft figure, whether the brginrning, 
or the end^ or, fonwetlitnes, even the middle^ 
cannot, as far as I know, be- afcertaincd by any 
prccifc laik. This^ nnufl: vary wicb the naicura 
of the Seiitenctf;' Ferfpicuity vnxsSi ever bd 
ftudied in the ftrft place j and the nature of 
our Language allows no grean liberty in the 
choice of collocation^ For the naoft p^t, 
with us, the importaint wojds a?re placed in- thdi 
beginning of the Sente;t)ce« SoMf. Addifon-: 
^ The ^leafi^e^ of d¥e Imsigination, taken in 
^^ their fult extenty are? not fo gpofs as^ utoofe of 
^ fenfe, fa reftned as^ tShofe of «he i&'rider- 
'^ ftanding." And this, indeed, feei^s the 
nwft plaift and natural order, to place that irt 
the froht which i^ the chief objcft of chc pro-* 
|H»rition we are hying down. Someirinf)e^i 
hovevej<^ wh«ni we intend to givc^ wcighc to ji 

U 4 Sea- 




L E c T. Sentence, it is of advantage to fufpend the 
meaning for a. little, and then bring it out full 
at the clofc : " Thus/' fays Mr. Pope, ** on 
" whatever fide we contemplate Homer, what 
** principally ftrikes us, is, his wonderful in- 
** vention." (Pref, to Homer.) 


The Greek and Latin writers had a con- 
liderable advantage above us, in this part of 
ftyle. By the great liberty of inverfion, which 
their Languages permitted, they could chufe 
the mod advantageous lituation for every 
word J and had it thereby in their power to 
give their Sentences more force, Milton, in 
his profe works, and fome other of our old 
Englifh writers, endeavoured to imitate them 
in this. But the forced conftruftions, which 
they employed, produced obfcurityj and the 
genius of our Language, as it is now writteo 
and fppken, will not admit fuch liberties, 
Mr. Gordon, who followed this inverted ftyle 
in his Tranflation of Tacitus, has, fometimes, 
done fuch violence to the Language, as even 
to appear ridiculous ; as in this expreflion : 
" Into this hole, thruft themfelves three Ro- 
*' man fenators." He has tranflated fo fimple 
a phrafe as, " Nullum ca tempeftate bellum,'* 
by, *' War at that time there was none.*- 
However, within certain bounds, and tp a li- 
mited degree, our Language does admit of 
inverfions ; and they are pra6tifed with fucgeft 



by- the beft writers. So Mr. Pope, fpeaking t s c t. 
of Homer, ^* The praife of judgment VirgiJ 
" has juftly contefted with him, but his in- 
*^ vention remains yet unrivalled." It is 
evident, that, in order to give the Sentence its 
due force, by contrafting properly the two 
capital words, " judgment and invention,'* 
this is a happier arrangement, than if he ha4 
followed the natural order, which was, " Vir- 
" gil has juftly contefted with^him the praife 
** of judgment, buc his invention remains yet 
^' unriv^lkd*" 

Some writers pradife this degree of inver* 
fion, which our Language bears, much more 
than others J Lord Sh^ftlbury, for inftancc, 
much more than Mr. Addifon j and to this 
fort of arr^ngemiCnt is owing, in a great mea- 
fure, that appearance of ftrength, dignity, and 
varied harmony, which Lord Shaftfbury's 
ftyle poffefles. This will appear from the 
following Sentences of his Enquiry into Vir- 
tue; where all the words are placed, not 
ftridly in the natural order, but with that arti-- 
ficial conftruftion, which may give the period 
moft emphafis and grace. He is fpeaking of 
the mifery of vice : " This, as to the complete 
^' immoral ftate, is, what of their own ac- 
** cord, men readily remark. Where there 
" is this abfolute degeneracy, this total 
*^ apoftacy from all candor, truft, or equity, 

*' there 



^' there ^rc few who do not fee and a^jknow- 
*^ ledge the mifcfy which is confequent, 
*^ Seldom is the cafe miCGanftrued, when at 
" word. The niisfortune is, that we look> 
not on this depravity, nor coniider bow it 
{lands, iftlcfs degrees^ As if, to be ab£b- 
** lutely immoral, were, indeed,, the greatcft 
** mifcry ; but, to be fo ia a little degree, 
•* fbould be no mifery or barm at aW% Wbi«cb 
•* to allow> is juft a» reafonable as ta own,. 
" that 'tis the greateft ill of abody to be ir^ the 
** utmoft manner maim'ed or diftopted > but 
•* that, to lofe the ufe only of one limb, or 
** to be impaired in fome fingle organ or 
•^ member, is no ilT worthy the leafl: notice/* 
(Vol. ii. p. 82.) Here is no violence done 
to the Languacge, though there are many 
inverfions. All is {lately, and arranged witi> 
art ; which, is the great charadleriftic of thia 
author's Style. 

We need only open any pagp of Mr. Addi^ 

foa, to fee (|uite a di&rent order in- the con'« 

ftruftion* of Sentences. " Our fight is the; 

** moil pcrfe<5l, and mod delightful of all our 

** fehfes. It fills the mind witb the lapgei^ 

variety of ideas, converfes with its objc<Els 

at the gTeateft distance, and continues the 

longed in. a£Uon, without being tired, or 

** fatiated with its proper enjoyments^ Tho 

*^ fcjifc of feeling can^ iadeed> give us a no** 

^' tiQ« 



"' tion of cxtenfioa,: flaape, and all other ideas l e c t. 
" that enter at the eye, except colours ; but, 
'^ at the facne timey it is very much ftraiterred 
" and confined in its operations,'* &c. (Spec- 
tator, No. +11.) In this: ftrain,, he alway^s^ 
proceeds, following the moft natural and ob>- 
vious order of the Langtaagc ; and if, by this 
means, he has lefs pomp and majelly than 
Shaftfbury, he has,, in return, more nature, 
more eafe and. fimplicity ;. which are beauties of 
a- higher order. 

Birr whether we pra6life inverfion or noi^ 
and in whatever part of the fentcnce we dif- 
pofe of the capital woFds, it is always ai point 
of great mon^ent, that thde capital words fhalt 
ftand clear and difencangled from, any other 
words that would clog them. Thus, when 
there are any circunaftanccs of time, place, or 
other limitations, which, the principal objedt 
of our Sentence reqoiires to^ have connefted 
with it, we muft take efpecial care to difpofe of 
them, fo- as not to cloud that principal objeft, 
nor to bury it under a load of circumftances, 
This will be made clearer by an example, 
Obferve the arrangement of the following Sen^- 
fence, in Lord Shaftfbury's Advice to an Au- 
thor, He is (peaking of modem poets, as 
compared with the antient : " If,, whilft they^ 
" profefs only to plcafe, they fecretly advife, 
** and give inftruftion, they may now, perhaps, 

'' as 


*' as well as formerly, be efteemed, with juf- 
*' tice, the beft and moft honourable among 
** authors," This is a well conftrufted Sen- 
tence. It contains a great many circumftanccs 
and adverbs^ necefTary to qualify the meaning; 
cnly^Jecretly, as well, ferbafs^ now, with jufiicCj 
formerly i yet thefe are placed with fo much 
art, as neither to cmbarrafs, nor weaken the 
Sentence; while that which is the capital ob- 
je£t in it, viz. " Poets being juftly eftecmed 
** the beft and moft honourable among au- 
** thors," comes out in the conclufion clear 
apd detached, and poffeffes its proper place. 
See, now, what would have been the efFedt of 
a different arrangement. Suppofe hin^ to 
have placed the members of the Sentence thus ; 
If, whilft they profefs to pleafe only, they 
advife and give inftruftion fccrctly, they 
may be efteemed the beft and moft honour- 
able among authors, with juftice, perhaps, 
now, as well as formerly." Here we have 
prccifely the fame words, and the fame fenfe ; 
but, by means of the circumftanccs being fo 
intermingled a^ to clog the capital words, the 
whole becomes perplexed, without gr^ce, aAd 
without ftrength, 

A FOURTH rule, for conftrufting Sentences 
with proper ftrength, is, to make the members 
af them go on rifing and growing in their 
icnportance above one another. This fort of 






•arrangement is called a Climax, and is always i- e c t» 

confidered as a beauty in compofition. From 

what caufe it pleafes, is abundantly evident. 

In all things, we naturally love to afcend to 

what is more and more beautiful, rather than 

to follow the retrograde order. Having had 

once fome confiderabk objefl: fet before us, it 

is, with pain, we are pulled back to attend to 

an inferior circumftance. *' Cavendum ^ft," 

fays Quinftilian, whofe authority I always 

willingly quote, *' ne decrefcat oratio, & for- 

" tiori fubjungatur aliquid infirmius ; ficut, 

" facrilego, fur; aut latroni petul'ans. Au- 

*' geri enim debent fententiae & infurgere *.'* 

Of this beauty, in the conftruftion. of Sen*^ 

tences, the orations of Cicero furnifh many 

examples. His pompous manner naturally 

led him to ftudy it j and, generally, in order 

to render the climax perfeft, he makes both 

the fcnfe and the found rife together, with a 

very magnificent fwell. So in his oration for 

Milo, fpeaking of a dcGgn of Clodius's for 

aflaffinating Pompey : *' Atqui fi res, fi vir, li 

^' tempus ullum dignum fuit, certe hasc in 

^^ ilia caufa fumma omnia fueruht. Infidiator 

* '' Care mud be taken, that our compofition fhall not 
** fall off, and that a weaker expreifion fhall pot follovi^ 
•* one of more ftrength ; as if, after facrilege, we fhould 
** britig in theft; or, having mentioned a robbery, we 
i* ihould fubjoin petulance. Sentences ought always to 
5* rife and grow/' 

" erat 



t E c T- ''* crat in Foro coUocatus, atquc In Vcftibul© 
'* ipfo Senatus ; ei viro atrtcm mors ,f>araba* 
" tUT, cujus in viti nitefeatur falus civitms ; 
** eo porrA reipublic* tennpore^ quo fi tinim 
**^ iilc oc<ridi'&t^ ntm haec Iblum civkas, fed 
** gentes omncs conddiflfetit/* The follow- 
ing inftance, from Lord Bolingferoke, is alfo 
fceauriful : *' This •decency, this grace, this 
** propriety of manners to charaft-er, is fo ef- 
fential to princes in particular, that, 'when- 
ever it is neglected, their virtues Jofe a gpcat 
degree of luftne, and their defeds acquire 
much aggravation. Nay more 9 by ne- 
glcfling this decency and this grace, and 
for want of a fufficicnt rpgard to appear- 
ances, even their virtues may betray them 
into failings, their failings into vices, and 
their vices into hasbits unworthy t>f princes, 
and unworthy of men.** (Idea of a Patriot 

I MtrsT obfcrvc^ however^ that this fort of 
full and oratoraal climax, can neither be al« 
ways obtained, nor ought to be always fotight 
ufter. Only Ibmc kinds of writing admit fuch 
Sen^nces i ^nd, to ftudy them too frequently, 
efpecia!ly if the fubjeft require not fo much 
jponrp, is afFefted and difagreeable. But there 
js fomcthing approacTiing to a climax, which 
it is a geineral rule to ftudy^ ^^ ne decrelcat 
" oratio," as Quinftiiian fpeaks> ** ct ne for- 

•* tion 


^^ tiori fubgongacur aliquid infirmius." A 
weaker aflfcrtuoa^or propofition fhould ivevcr 
come after a ftronger one ; and wjien o^ar £en^ 
tence confifts of two menntrers, the longefl: 
(houid, geacrally, be the concluding otie. 
There k a twofold rcafoo for this laft dlreAion* 
Periods, thus divided, are pronounced more 
tafily ; a^nd the ihort^ rhember being placed 
Srft, 'we carry it naorc readily in our nrieniorf 
^8 wc proceed to the fcco»d, and fee the con- 
j!iediaA of the two tnore clearly. Thu«, to 
lay, " When our pafilons have forfaken us, 
'^ we filter ourfelves witfe the belief that we 
** have forfaken tbetn," is tx)th more graceful 
and more clear, than to begin with the longeft 
part of the propofition: " We flatter our- 
*' fclires with the belief that we hare forfaken 
^ our paffions, when they have forfaken us,** 
In general, it k always agreeable to find a 
fenteocc rifing upon u«, and growing in its 
importance to the very laft word, when thii 
eonftru^ton can be managed without afFefta* 
tion, or unfeafoi>ablc pomp* ** If we rife yet 
^ higher^" fays Mr. Addifon, very beautifully, 
" and confider the fixed ftars as (6 nnany 
^' oceans of flame, that are each of theni at* 
^^ funded with a difienent fet of planets ; and 
" ftill difcover new firmaments and new lights, 
" that are funk farther in thofe unfathomable 
.^' depths of asther; we are loft in fuch a la- 
5^ byrioth of ium ai^d worlds, and confounded 
8 *^ with 


h B^ c t. ex v^rith the magnificence and immcnfity bf 
" Nature." (Spedk* No. 420.) Hence foU 
lows clearly, 

A FIFTH rule for the ftrength of Sentences 1 
which is, to avoid concluding them with an 
adverb, a prepofition, or any inconfiderable 
Word. Such conclufions are always enfeebling 
and degrading. There are Sentences, indeed, 
where the ftrefs and fignificancy reft chiefly 
upon fome words of this kind. In this cafe> 
they are not to be confidered as circumftances, 
but as the capital figures $ and ought, in pro- 
priety, to have the principal place allotted 
them. No fault, for inftance, can be found 
with this fentence of Bolingbroke's : ** In 
*^ their profperity, my friends ftiall never.hear 
«* ofme i in their adverfity, alwaysr" Where 
ncvery and always^ being emphatical words, 
were to be fo placed, as to makje a ftrong 
impreflion. But I fpeak now of thofe inferior 
parts of fpeech, when introduced as circum- 
ftances, or as qualifications of more important 
words. In fuch cafe, they ftiould always be 
difpofed of in the leaft confpicuous parts of 
the Period ; and fo clafled with other words of 
greater dignity, as to be kept in their proper 
fccondary ftation. 

Agreeably to this rule, we fhould always 
avoid concluding with any of thofe particles, 


Structure of sentences. 355 

i!>hich mark the cafes of nouns, — of^ ta^ frofn\ ^ ^ c t, 
w/i&, by. . For inftance, it is a great deal bet- 
ter to fay, " Avarice is a crinne of tvhich wife 
^' men are often guilty/' tiian to fey, "Avarice 
" is a crime which wife men are often guilty 
^' of." This a phrafeology which all correft 
Writers ftiun; and with reafdn. For, befides 
the want of dignity which arifcs from thofe 
monofyilables at the end, the imagination 
cannot aV.oid refting, for a little, on the im- 
poi't of the word whiirh clofes the Sentence : 
And, as thofe prepofitions have no import of 
their own, but only ferve to point out the re- 
lations of other words, it is difagreeable for the 
mind to be left paufing on a word, which ddes 
not> by itfelfi produce any idea> nor form any 
pi6turc in the fancy* 

For the fame reafon, verbs Which are ufed 
in a compound fcnfe, with fome of thefe pre- 
pofitions> are^ though not fo bad^ yet ftill not 
fo beautiful conclufions of a period \ fuch as> 
bring abauty lay hold o/j €omi over tOy clear up% 
and many other of this kind : inftead of which^ 
if we can employ a fimple verb, it always 
terminates the Sentence with ftiorc ftrength* 
Even the pronoun, //, though it has the im- 
port of a fubftantive noun, and indeed often 
forces itfcif upon us unavoidably, yet, when 
we want to give dignity to a Sentence, fhould, 
if poflible, be avoided in the conclufioni 
- Vol. I. X more 




L EC T. rporc efpccially when it is joined with fomc of 
the prepofitions, as^ ^itb it^ in ity to it. In the 
following Sentence of the Spefbator, which 
otherwife i$ abundantly noble^ the bad effeA 
of this clofe » fenfible : ** There is not, in 
my opinion, a more pleafing and triumph- 
ant confideration in religion, than thisj of 
^* the perpetual progrcfs which the foul makes 
^* towards the perfcftion of its nature, without 
** ever arriving at a period in it/' (No. iii.) 
How much more graceful the Sentence^ if it 
had been fo conftrufted as to clofe with the 
word, period! 

.Besides particles and pronouns, tny phra(e> 
which exprefles a circumftance only, always 
brings up the rear of a Sentence with a bad 
grace. We may judge of this, by the follow- 
ing Sentence from Lord Bolingbroke (Letter 
on the State of Parties at the Acceflion of 
King George L) : " Let me therefore con- 
** elude by repeating, that divifion has caufed 
•* all the mifchicf we kment^ that union alone 
** can retrieve it i and that a great advance 
towards this union, was the coalition of par- 
ties> fo happily begun, fo fuccefsfully car- 
** ried on, and of late fo unaccountably ne- 
•^ gleded s to fay no worfe." This laft 
phrafc, to /ay no woffe, occafions a fad falling 
off at the end -, fo much the more unhappy, as 
the reft of the Period is conduced after the 



manner of a climax, which we cxpeft to find ^^ e c t. 
growing to the laft. 

The proper difpofition of Aidh circumftanccs 
in a Sentence, is often attended with confidcr- 
able trouble, in order to adjuft them fo, as (hall 
confift equally with the perfpicuity and the 
grace of the Period. Though neceflary parts, 
they are, however, like unfhapely ftones in a 
building, which try the (kill of an artift, where 
to place them with the leaft offence, '^ Jun* 
" gantur," fays Quinftilian, " quo congruunt 
** maxime j ficut in ftrudtura faxorum ijidium, 
** etiam ipfa enormitas invenit cui applicari, 
** ct in quo poffit infiftere **" 

The clofe is always an unfuitable place for 
thenn. When the fenfe admits it, the fooner 
they are difpatched, generally fpeaking, the 
better ; that the more important and fignificant 
words may poiTefs the laft place, quite difen- 
cumbered. It iis a rule, too, never to crowd 
too many circumftances together, but rather 
to interfperfe them in different parts of the 
Sentence, joined with the capital words on 
whkh they depends provided that care be 

• ♦< Let thfim be iftfertcd wherever the happieft place 
" for them can be found; as, in a ftruftare compofed 
" of rough ftones, there are always places where the 
" moft irregular and unfhapely may find* fome adjacent 
** one to which it can be joined, and fome bafis on which 
** it may reft." 

X 2 taken. 


taken, as t before diredted, not to dog. 

thofe capital words with them. For inftance, 

when Dean Swift fays, ^* What I had the ho- 

" nour of mentioning to your Lordfhip, feme 

*' time ago, in converfation, was not a new 

** thought/' (Letter to the Earl of Oxford.) 

Thcfe two circumftances, Jometime ago^ and 

in converjatiofii which are here put together, 

would have had a better efFeiSt disjoined, thus: 

** What I had the honour, fometime ago, of 

*' mentioning to your Lordlhip in converfa- 

** tion." And in the following Sentence of 

Lord Bolingbroke's (Remarks on the Hiftory 

of England): " A monarchy, limited like 

** ours, may be placed, for aught I know, as 

** it has been often reprefented, juft in the 

*f middle point, from whence a deviation 

" leads, on the one hand, to tyranny, and on 

*' the other, to anarchy." The arrangement 

would have been happier thus : " A monar- 

'^ chy, li{T)ited like ours, may, for aught I 

" know, be placed, as it has often been 

^^ reprefented, juft in the middle point. 




I SHALL give only one rule more, relating 

to the ftrength of a Sentence ; which is, that 

in the members of a Sentence, where two 

things are compared or contrafted to each 

other 5 where either a refemblance or an op- 

pofition is intended to be expreffedj fomc 




refemblance, in the language and conftrufkion, l k c t, 
riiould be preferved. For when the things 
themfelves correfpond to each other, we natu- 
rally expeft to find the words correfponding 
too. We are difappointed when it is other- 
wife; and the comparifon, or contraft, ap- 
pears mor,e imperfcA. -Thus, when Lord 
Bolingbroke fays, *' The laughers will be for 
" thofe who have moft wit ; the ferious part of 
" mankind for thofe who have moft rcafon 5n 
*^ their fidci" (Differt. on Parties, Pref.) the 
oppofition would have been more complete, if 
he had faid, " The laughers will be for thofe 
*^ who have moft wit ; the ferious, for thofe 
*' who have moft reafon on their fide." The (oU 
lowing paflfage from Mr. Pope*s Prefape to his 
Homer, fully exemplifies the rule I am now 
giving: ** Homer was the greater genius; 
" Virgil the better artift; in the one, we 
" moft admire the man j in the other, the 
" "work. Homer hurries us with ^ com-' 
^^ manding impetuofity ; Virgil teads us 
" with an attractive majefty. Homer fcat-^ 
^^ ters with a generous profufion; Virgil be- 
'• ftows with a careful magnificence. Homer, 
" like the Nile, pours out his riches with a' 
** fudden overflow 5 Virgil, like a river in its 
" banks, with a conftant ftream.— And' 
^* when we look upon their machines. Homer 
'^ fecms like his own Jupiter in his terrors, 
^^ Ihaking Olympus, fcattering the lightnings, 

X; 3 '^ anci 


<^ and firing the heavens ; Virgil^ like the fame 
** Power, in his benevolence, counfelling with 
<^ the gods, laying plans for eoiprres, and 
^* ordering his whole creatioa/'-^Periods thua 
conftrudted, when introduced with propriety, 
and not returning too often, have a fenfibk 
beauty. But we muft beware of carrying our 
attention to this beauty too far. It ought 
only to be occafionally iludied, when coav 
parifon or oppofition of objects, naturally leads 
to it. If fuch a conftruflion as this be aimed 
at in all our Sentences, it leads to a difagree- 
able uniformity i produces a regularly return^ 
ing clink in the period, which tires the ear; 
and plainly discovers afFedtation. Among the 
antients, the fbyle of Ifocrates is faulty in this 
refpeS:; and, on that account, by fome of 
their bcflr critics, particularly by Dionyfius of 
Halicarnaffus, he is feverely ccnfured. 

This finifhes what I had to fay concerning 
Sentences, confidered, with refpe£): to their 
meaning, under the three heads, of Perfpicuity, 
Unity, and Strength. It is a fubjeft on which 
I have infifted fully, for two reafons^: Firft, 
becaufe it is a- fubjeft, which, by its nature, 
can be rendered more dida6bic, and fubjedted 
more to precife rule, than many other fubjedls 
of criticifm s and next, becaufe it appears to 
me of confiderable importance and ufe. 



PoR, though many of thofe attentions, 
which I have been recommending, m^y ap- 
pear minute, yet their cfFeft, upon writing 
and ftyle, is much greater than might, at firft, 
be imagined. A fentiment which is expreflfed 
Hi a Period, clearly, neatly, and happily ar- 
ranged, makes always a (tfonger imprefllon on 
the mindj than one that is feeble or embaf- 
raffed. Every one feels this upon a compari- 
ion : and if the e(fe<5k be fenlible in one Sen- 
tence, how much more in a whole difcourfe, 
or compofition^ that is made up of fuch Sen- 

The fundamental role of the conftruftion of 
Sentences, and into which all others might be 
refolvedj undoubtedly is, to communicate, in 
the cleareft and moft natural order, the ideas 
which we mean to transfufe into the minds of 
others. Every arrangement that does moft 
jufticc to the fenfe, and expreffes it to moft 
advantage, ftrikes us as beautiful. To this 
point have tended all the rules I have given. 
And, indeed, did men always think clparly, 
and were they, at the fame time, fully matters 
of the Language in which they write, there 
would be occafion for few rules. Their Sen- 
tences would then, of courfe, acquire all 
thofe properties of Precifion, Unity, and 
Strength, which I have recommended. For 
WC m^y reft affured, that, whenever we ex- 

X 4\ pfefs 


L E c T. prefs ourfelves ill, there is, bcfides the mifma-* 
nagement qf Language, for the rnoft part, 
fome miftakc in our manner of conceiving the 
fubjcdl. EmbarraiTed, obfgure, and feebly 
Sentences, are generally, if not .always, the 
rcfult of erpbarraffed, pbfcure, and feeble 
thought. Thought and Language a6t and 
rc-a6t upon each other mutually. Logic and 
Rhetoric have here, as in many other cafes, a 
ftridt conneftioHi and he that is learning to 
arrange his Sentences with accuracy and order, 
is learning, /at the fame rime, to think with 
accuracy and order i an obfervation which 
alone will juftify all the care and attention WC 
hivci beftowcd on this fubjcdl. 

I l l J ■ . I : ' > !■ • ) i \n * 


m— —piP" " I ^ I 



HI T H E R T O we have confidered Sen- l e c t, 
tences, with refpedt to their meaning^ ^"'' 
under the heads of Feripicuity, Urtity, and 
Strength. We '^te how to confider them, with 
refpeft to their found, their harmony, or 
agreeablenefs to the. ear; which was the laft 
quality belonging to them that I pro|)ofed tp 

tre^t of, 

■ SauND is a quality much inferior to fenfe j 
yet fuch as muft not be difr<2garded. For, as 
long as founds are the vehicle of conveyapce 
for our ideas, there will be always a very con- 
fiderable connexion between the idea which 
is cohveyed, and the nature of the found 
which convey? it. I^leafmg ideas can hardly 
be trapAnitted to the mind, by means of 
harflii and difagreeable founds. The imagina- 
tion revolts as foon as it hears them uttered. 
" Nihil," fays Quinftilian, " poteft intrarc 
*« in affcdtum qjjod in aure, velut quo? 

- ** dani 


L K c T. " dam veftibulo ftatim offendit *." MuGc 


has naturally a great power over all men to 
prompt and facilitate certain emotions : info^ 
much^ that there are hardly any difpoiitions 
which we wi(h to raife in others, but certain 
founds may be found concordant to thofe dif- 
pofitions, and tending to promote them. Now, 
Language may, in forae degree, be rendered 
capable of this power of muGc; a circum- 
ftance which muft needs heighten our idea of 
Language as a wonderful invention. Not 
content with fimply interpreting our ideas to 
others, it can give them thofe ideas en- 
forced by correfponding founds i and to the 
pleafure of communicated thought, can add 
the new and feparate pleafure of melody. 

In the Harmony of Periods, two things 
may be confidercd, Firft, Agreeable (bund, 
or modulation in general, without any parti- 
cular exprcffion : Next, The found fo order- 
ed, as to become expreffive of the fenfe. The 
firft is the more common j^ the fe^ond, thg 
liigher beauty. 

First, Let us confider aigree^ble found, 
^n general, as the property of a well-con- 
ftrucled Sentence : and, as it was of profe 
Sentences we have hitherto treated, we fliall 

* ** Nothing can enter into tbe alFedlibns which Humbles 
9 at the threfhold, by offending th^ car." 



confine ourfclvcs to them under this head, l e c t^ 
This beauty of mufical conftruftion in* profe, 
it is plain, will depend upon two things ; the 
choice of words, and the arrangenient of 

I BEGIN with the choice of words; on which 
head, there is not much to be faid, unlefs J 
were to defcend into a tedious and frivolous de^ 
tail concerning the powers of the feveral letters, 
or (imple founds, of which fpeech is compofed. 
It is evident, that words are moft agreeable to 
the ear which are compofed of fmooth and li- 
quid founds, where there is a proper intermix-- 
ture of vowels and confonants j without too 
many harfli confonants rubbing againft each 
other J or too many open vowels in fucceflion, 
to caufe a hiatus, or difagreeable aperture of 
the mouth. It may always be aflumed as a 
principle, that, whatever founds are difficult 
in pronunciation, are, in the fame propor- 
tion, harfh and painful to the ear. Vowels 
give foftnefs -, confonants, ftrength to the 
found of words. The mufic of Language, 
requires a juft proportion of both j and will be 
hurt,* will be rendered either grating or effe- 
minate, by an excefs of either. Long words 
are commonly more agreeable to the ear than 
fnonofyllables. They pleafe it by the compo- 
fition, or fucceflion of founds which they 
prefent to itj and,'accordingly, the moft mu- 
fical Languagesabound moft in them* Among 




t EC T. words of any length, thofe are the moft mufi- 
cal, which do not run wholly either upon 
long or fliort fyllables, but are compofed of. 
an intermixture of them ; fuch as, repent, 
frodiicey velocity^ celerity, independent; impe^ 

The next head, refpefting the Harmony 
which refnlts from a proper arrangement of 
the words and members of a Period, is more 
complex, and of greater nicety. For, let 
the words themfelves be ever fo well chofen, 
and well founding, yet, if they be ill difpofed, 
the mufic of the Sentence is utterly loft. In 
jhe harmonious ftrufture and difpofitioh of Pe- 
riods, no writer whatever, antient or modern, 
equals Cicero. He had ftudied this with care; 
and was fond, perhaps to cxcefs, of what he 
calls, the ** Plena ac numerofa oratio." Wc 
need only open his v/ritings, to find inftances 
that will render the efFeft of mufical Lan- 
guage fenfible to every ear. What, for ex- 
ample, can be rnore full, round, and fwelling, 
than the following Sentence of the 4th Oration 
againft Catiline? *^ Cogitate quantis labori- 
•^ bus fundatum imperium, quanta virtute 
<• ftabilitam libertatem, quanta Deorum be- 
•^ nignitate au<5tas exaggeratafque fortunas, 
* uns^ nqx penc delerit.'* In Englilh, we 
may take, for an inftapce of ^ mufical* Sen- 
tence, the following from Milton, io his 
I'reatifc Qrt Edi^c^tion ; " We fhall conduct 

** you 

Harmony of sentences. ^ly 

*^ you tb a hill-fide, laborious, indeed, at ^^^^* 
" the firft afcent ; but elfe, fo fmooth, fo 
*' green, fo full of goodly profpcfts, and 
" melodious founds on every fide, that the 
" harp of Orpheus was not more charming.'* 
Every thing in this Sentence confpires to pro- 
mote the harmony. The words are happily 
chofcn J full of liquids and foft founds ; labo-, 
riousyjmootbi green , goodly ^ melodious ^ charming: • 
and thefc words fo artfully arranged, that, were 
we to alter the collocation of any one of them, 
we fliould, prefently, be fenfible of the me- 
lody fufFering. For, let us , obfcrve, how 
finely the members of the Period fwell one 
above another. " So fmooth, fo green,"— ^ 
fo full of goodly profpedls,— and melodious 
founds on every fide ;"— till the ear, pre- 
pared by this gradual rife, is conducted to that 
full clofe on which it refts with pleafurci— 
*' that the harp of Orpheus was not more 
** charming/* 

The, StruAurc of Periods, then, being fuf» 
ceptible of a very fenfible melody, our next en- 
quiry ftiould be. How this nvelodious ftrufture 
is formed, what arc the principles of it, and 
by what laws is it regulated ? And, upon this 
fubjeft, were I to follow. the antient rhetori- 
cians, it would be eafy togive a great variety 
of rules. For here they have entered into a 
very minute and particular detail, more parti- 


)t$ Harmony of seKtences, 

t E c T. cular, indeed, than on any other head that re- 
gards Language* They hold, that to profe, as 
well as to verfc, there belong certain numbers, 
lefs ftrift indeed, yet fuch as can be afcertained 
by rule. They go fo far as to fpecify the feet, as 
they are called, that is, the fucceflion of long and 
ftiort fyllables, which >fhould enter into the 
different members of a Sentence, and to 
fliow what the effeft of each of thefe will be. 
Wherever they treat of the Structure of Sen- 
tences, it is always^he mufic of them thajt makes 
the principal objeA* Cicero and Quin6lilian arc 
full of this. The other qualities of Precifion, 
Unity, and Strength, which we confider as of 
chief importance, they handle (lightly i but 
when they come to the ^^ junSiura et numerus^* 
the ncjodulation and harmony, there * they aftf 
copious. Dionyfius of Halicarnaflus, one 
of the mofl: judicious critics of antiquity, 
has written a trcatifc on the CompofiHon tf 
Words in a Sentence^ which is altogether con- 
fined to their mufical cfFedl. He makes the 
excellency of a Sentence to confift in four 
things : firft, in the fweetncfs of fingle 
founds; fecondly, in the compoficion of ^undsi 
that is, the numbers or feet j thirdly, in 
change or variety of found ; and, fourthly, in 
found fuited to the fcnfe. On all thefe points 
he writes with, great accuracy and- refinement 5 
and is very worthy of being confulted; though, 
were one: now to write a book on the Strufturc 




of Sentences, we fhould exped): to find the l e c r. 
fubjed treated of in a more extenfive manner. 

In modern times, this whole fubjeA of the 
mufical ftru£ture of difcourfe, it is plain, has 
been much lefs ftudiedi and, indeed, for 
feveral reafons, can be much lefs fubje&ed to 
rule. The rcafons, it will be neceflary to givc^ 
both to juftify my not following the track of the 
ancient rhetoricians on this fubjeft, and to 
(how how it has come to pafs, that a pare of 
compofition, which once made fo confpicuous 
a figure^ now draws much lefs attention. 

In the firft place, the antient Languages, 
I mean the Greek and the Roman, were much 
more fufceptible than ours, of the graces and 
the powers of melody. The quantities of 
their fyllables were more fixed and determined ; 
their words were longer, and more fonorous i 
their method of varying the terminations of 
nouns and- verbs, both introduced a greater 
variety of liquid founds, and freed them from 
that multiplicity of little auxiliary words 
"^ which we are pbliged to employ ; and, what 
is of the greateft confcquence, the inverfions 
which' their Languages allowed, gave them 
the power of placing their words in whatever 
order was moft fuited to a mufical arrange-* 
ment« All thefe were great advantages which 
they enjoyed, us, for Harmony of Periods 




1- l^c^T. In the next place, the Greeks and Romans,V' 
the former cfpecially, were, in truth, much 
more mufical nations than we i their genius 
was more turned to delight in the melody of 
fpeechi . Mufic is known to have been a more* 
cxtenfivc art among them than it is with us ; 
more generally ftudied, and applied to a 
greater variety of objefts. Several learned 
men, particularly the Abbe du Bos, in his 
Reflexions on Poetry and Painting, have 
clearly proved, that the theatrical compoGtions 
of the antients, both their tragedies and 
comedies, were ft t to a kind of mufic. Whence^ 
the Modos fecit ^ and the T^ibiis dextris et ft- 
fiiftriSi prefixed to the editions of Terence's 
Plays. All fort of declamation and publicf 
Ipeaking, was carried on by them in a much 
liiore mufical tone than it is among us. It ap« 
proached to a kind of chanting or recitative^ 
Among the Athenians, there was what was 
(called the Nomic Melody j or a particular 
meafure prefcribed to the public ofEeerSi in 
which they were to promulgate the laws to the 
people; left, by reading them with improper 
tones, the laws might be expofed to contempt* 
Among the Romans, there is a noted ftory of 
C. Gracchus, when he was declaiming in pub- 
lic, having a muGcian ftanding at his backj 
\n order to give him the proper tones with a 
pipe or flute. Even when pronouncing thofe 
terrible, tribunitial harangues^ by which he 

' inflame4 



inflamed the dne half of the citizens of l fi c t*. 

Rome againft the other^ this attention to the 

mufic of Speech was, in thofe times, it fcems, 

thought necefiary to fuccefs. Quin^bilian^ 

though he condenins the excefs of this fort of 

pronunciation^ yet allows a '^ cantus obfcu^ 

" rior"'to.bc a beauty in a public fpeakef* 

Hence that variety of accents, adute^ grave^ 

and circumfiex, which we find marked upon 

the Greek fyllables, to expfefs^ not the quan<* 

tity of them, but the tone in which they were 

to be fpoken: the application of which is 

now wholly unknown to us« And though 

the Romans did not mark thbfe' aclcents in 

their wj-iting^ yet it appears, from Quinfbilian, 

that they ufed them in pronunciation : ^< ^atr-^ 

*^ tttm^ quaky ^ fays he, *^ comparantes gravis 

** interrogantes acuto tenoj-e concludpnt**' 

As mufic then, was an objedt much more at« 

tended to in Speech^ among the Greeks and 

Romans, than it is with us ; as, in all kind^ 

of public fpeaking> they employed a much 

greatei* variety of notes, of tones, or in<» 

flexions^ of voice, than we ufe ; this is one 

clear reafon of their paying a greater attention 

to that conftrudion of Sentences, which mighc 

bed fuit this muHcal pronunciation* 

It is farther known, ithat, in confequence bf 
the genius of their Languages, ansl of their 
manner of pronouncing them, the mulical 

Vol. I. Y arrange* 


!• E c T. drraitgemeht of Schtcriccs, did^ in faft, pfo*« 
duce a greater efFe£b in public fpeaking among 
them^ than it could poffibljr dd in any modern 
oration j another reason why it doferved to ht 
more ftudied. Cicero^ in hrs treatHc> intitledy 
Ordtor^ tells usv *' Conciones fa^ cxdamafe 
** vidir, com verba apti cecidiflent. Id cndrtJ 
'^ expe&ant aures */' And he gives a renrark-* 
able inftance of the effefb^ of a harmonious 
period upon a whole affemblyj fr6m a Sentence 
of one 6f G^rbo's Oratidnsi fpokeh hi \m 
healing. The Sentence was^ '< Patris dictum 
<' fapient temeritas filti coniprobravit." By 
means of the found of whtch» alone^ he tells 
vsi <' Tantts clamor concionis cxcitatus eft^ 
<* ut prbrfus admirabihe eifet/' He imkei m 
remark the feet isi ^^hicb thefe wbrds confift^ 
to which he afcribes the power of the nrielody ; 
and ihows how^ by altering the colloca^ 
tion, the whole effed would be 16ft ; as thus i 
<^ Patris dictum fapiens comprobravit tetue-^ 
«* ritas filli." Now, though it be true th*e 
Ciu-bo's Sentence is eitremely mttfical, and 
would be ngreeable, at this day> to any au-^ 
diehce^ yet I cannot believe thit an Ebgli^ 
Sentence, equally hafmonk>us> would, \^ 
its harmony albnCj produce any fuch elKefi: on 

^ '< I have often been witnefs to burfts of «xckioattoii k 
" tbe public afletiiblies^ when Sentences cloTed muiically; 
^' for that is % ple^fate which th^ ear e?^e;^/* 

' a Britifit 


a-5rit}(h audience, or c^ccite any fuch wonder- l b c t. 
fu| ^pplaufe and s^dmirationi as Cicero infon'n$ 
q$ this of Cgrbo produced. Our northern 
ears are too coarfe and obtufe. The melody 
of Spjse^h ha^ lefs ppwer over ysj and by our 
fimplf r apd plainer n^ethod of uttering words^ 
Spi^^ch ^9 i(i truth, accompanied with lefs 
iPl^lpdy than it wa^ among the Greeks and 
Romany *t 

Fo|t (hefe reafo|is> I am of opinion^ that 
if 19 it\ vain to think of be^owing the fan>e 
attii^acion uppn th^ h^nnonious (i:rud:ure of 
QUr Septencep, that was bei]tQwed by thcfe an- 
tifjit nations. The dodlrine of the Greek and 
Rpn)$^n crijtLCs^ on this head, has mifled fome 
tp itpaginjpj that it might be equally applied 
tpoyr Tongue; and that our profe writing might 
be n^guUted by Spondee^ and Trochees, and 
Urnl^us's and Poeons, and other metrical feet. 
6utj firfk, Qgr words cannot be meafured, or, 
ac leaft^ can be n^c^fured very imperfe(Et)y by 
a^yfeet of this kind. For, the quantity, the 

* ** IjQ v^rfa quid^m* theatra tota exdamant R fuit una 
" fyljaha aut brevior aut longior. Nee ver6 maltkudQ 
<* pedes novit> nee ullos numeros tenet ; nee illad quod 
** o&ndity aut car» aut in quo ofTendat, intelligit ; e« 
'* taioca omoium longitudinum et bre.vitatum in fonis^ 
*^ ficut acutarum> gr^Timnque vocuo; judiciaxu ipfa nfi- 
*''iura in auribns npftri^ cplloeavit.'' 

Cicero, Orato^. c. 51. 

Y 2 length 


1- I c T length and Ihortnefs of our fyllablcs> is far 
fronn being fo fixed and fubjefted to rule, as in 
the Greek and Roman Tongues; but Very often 
left arbitrary, and determined by the cmphafisy 
and the fenfe. Next, though our profe could ad-^ 
mitof fuch metrical regulation, yet, from pur 
plainer method of pronouncing all fort 6f dif- 
coarfe, the efFeft would not be at all fo ftn- 
fible to the car, nor be rcliftied with fo much 
pleafure, as among the Greeks and Romans: 
And, laftly, This whole doftrine about the 
meafures and numbers of profe, even as it is 
d<rlivered by the antient rhetoricians thcm- 
felves, is, in truth, in a great meafu re loofc 
and uncertain. It appears, incleed, that the 
nvclody of difcourfe was a matter of infinitely 
more attention to them, than ever it has been 
to the moderns. But, though they write a 
great deal about it, they have never been able 
to reduce it to any rules which could be of 
real ufe in praftice. If we confult Cicero's 
Oratory where this point is difcuflcd with 
thti moft minutenefs, we fhalL. fee how 
much thefe antient critics differed from one 
Another, about the feet proper for the conclu- 
fion, and other parts of a Sentence ; and how. 
niuchj after all, was left to the judgment of 
the ear. Nor^ indeed, is it poffible to give 
precife rules concerning this matter, in any' 
Language; as all profe compofition fnuft be 
allowed to run loofe in its numbers ^ and, ac- 
8 cording 



rordingas the tenor of a difcourfe varies, the l ? t. 
modulation of Sentejices muft vary infinitely. 

But, although I apprehend, that this mu»- 
fical arrangement cannot be reduced into a 
fyftcm, I am far from thinking, that it is ^ 
quality tp be neglcfted in compofition. 0|i 
the contrary, I hold its cfFeft to be very con- 
fiderable i §(id that every one who ftudies to 
write with grace, much more who feeks to 
pronpunge ii\ public, with fuccefs, will be 
objigcd to attend to it not a little. But it is 
his ear, cultivated by attention and praftice, 
that muft chiefly direft him. , For any ru^s 
that can be given, on this fubjeft, are very 
general. Some rules, however, there ar^, 
which may be of ufe to form the ear to the 
proper h^rmpny of difcourfe, I proceed to 
mention fuch as appear tp me nnoft material. 

There are two things on which the mufic 
of a Sentence chiefly depei^ds. Thefe are, 
the proper diftributipn of the feveral mem- 
bers of it.; and, the clofe or cadence of the 

First, I fay, the diftributipn of the feveral 
members is to be carefully attended to. It is 
of importance to pbferve, that, whatever is 
cafy and agreeable to the organs of Speech, 
always founds grateful to the ear. While a 

Y 3 Period 

316 HARMONY X>t feE^Tfetftfel 

L E € t. ^^riod h going oh, the terrttirtitifth bT ea<A 
of its members fotms a pauft, oV reft:, lA prb- 
nouncing : and thcfe refts (hould be fo diftri- 
butcd, as to make the coufft o^ thfe birthing 
cafy, . and, at the fame time, fiibolA Yall at 
Tuch diftances, as to bear a fceytkin fihufick^ 
proportion to each other. T^his will \>e titft 
illuftratcd by examples. The following Seh- 
tence is from Archbilhop ^Tillotlbn ': " Thfs 
«* difcourfe concerning the eafinefs of God's 
«' commands docs, all along, fiippdfc and ao- 
*' knowledge the difficulties of 'the firft en- 
^* trance upon a religious courfc ; 'excdpt, only 
** in thofe perfons who have'had the h'appiriefs 
'*' to be trained up to religion by the cafy ahci 
*' inlenfible degrees of a pious and virtuotiTs 
'«*' education.," Mere there is ho harmony,- 
Vay, there is fomc degree of harfhnefs and uh^ 
pleafantnefs -, owing principally to this, that 
there is, properly, no more than one paufe or 
Veil in the* Sentence, falling betwixt the "two 
jtnenrlbers into ^^hich it is dividid ; tacli of 
'Which is fo Ibng, as to Occafion a cortfiderabfe 
Iftretch of the breath in'pronoiiniing It. 

X)bs£rve, now, on the other hand, the cafe 
Vith which the following Sentence, from Sir 
"William Temple, glides alon^g, and die gfate- 
ful intervals at Which the paufes ate placed. 
He is fpeaking farcafticaHy of itian : " ^&ut 
«• God be thanked, his pride is jgreiater tfiku 

" his 




^ his (i^gAprpncc, and w-hat ^c wzd^^ 'm-^now^ !• ^^c t. 

ledge, he fupplies by fiMHpi€<K:y. Wheo 
*^ he has looked about him, as far as he can, 
r<^ he conclodes^ diere is no o^or^ to bjp ieen ; 
^'< i9;hen>he is ^t the e;nd of hh line, he i;s ajtcch^ 
^^ ^otix)m icrf the ocean ; >vh^n be h^ IJ^ bi^ 
.'^ Jpieft, be is fqrc non^ ever did, or ^v^r« 
** ihoat better, or -bcyoad it. His own ,reafon 
.** iie holds to be the cercain meafure of truths 
'^ mid bis own knowledge, of wh^t is pofllble 
" in nature*/' Her^e every thing is^ ^t o.ncc/ 
jeafy to the .breath, s^d grateful to.the e^r^ 
And, it is this fort of flowing nncafure, thifi 
xegular and prppprtipnal divifion of tbie jbcjti- 
4>ers of his ^ntenccs, which renders Sir Wil- 
liam Temple's ftyle always i^grce^lc. I rault 
{>bibrve, ^t the fi^me tin^, that^a Sentence^ 
iiiv»th tpp ma^y cefts, and thefe pUaed^t joter* 

^ Or $his jtltlaiice.— He ja add^effiog hipifclf to X,ady 
Eflex, upon t)ie death of her child ; ** I was once in hope, 
<' that ii^at was fo violent could not be long : But, when, 
«< . I obfisrved yoor grief to grow-wronger with age, and to 
f* ^pcmiki^lUtt Afix^^m, the fMhpr it nui i whfinJ.^w it 
^* d^w.oot tq fUch nnhappy cpnfi^qof n^xss find (o thire^teo, 
^* no iefs than yqur child, your nealthy ^nd ypur^l^fe, J 
^ oouid no longer forbear this endeavour, nor end it, wi;h- 
<'.<^utbegging ftf you, for God's iafee, and Ibr yonr own, 
** for your children, and your friends, your country^ and 
.<' , y^r (9kmiiy,:tk^tyQu ,4^<>iUd no longer abtadon yourfelf 
«« to a;4i(cppfo^3UEe jp^pn | but ti^f y<Hi jwouM, at length, 
•< f|V49Jcqn,yp^r ^^y, give w&y .to jfiow prudence, 6r,.irt: 
«« jir:2L&» ^TPK^ the ii^t^nci^le ^rU.of ihe Assess, >tkittfie- 
** ver yet ihrunk at any dirafter«^* 

Y 4 val^ 


L F 

c T. vals too apparently meafarcd and regular, iS 
apt to favour of affed:ation. 

The next thing to be attended to, is, the 
clofe or ca^dence of the whole Sentence, which, 
as it is always the part moft fcnfiblc to the ear, 
demands the greateft care. So Quinftiiian : 
^* Non igitur durum fit, neque abriiptum, cjuo 
*^ animi, velut refpirant ac rcficiuotur. Haec 
^' eft fedes oratibnisj hoc auditor expedtatj 
<*• hie laus omnis declamat*.'* The only im- 
portant rule that can be given here, is, that 
when we aim at dignity or elevation, the 
found fliould be made to grow to the laft ; 
the longcft members of the Period, and the 
fuUeft and rnoft fbnorous words, fliould be re- 
fcrvcd to the conclufion. As an example of 
this, xhe following Sentence of Mr. Addifon'^s 
-may be given : " It fills ^he mind (fpeaking 
^* of fight) with the largeft variety of ideas ; 
'*^ converfes with its objeds at. the greateft 
.^^diftahce;. and continues th^ longed in 
^^. a£tion, without being tired or fatiated with 
'* its proper enjoyments." Every reader muft 
be fertfible of a beauty here, both in the proper 
diviUon of the members and paufes, and the 
■ ■■ ' t 

* *^ Let there be nothing harih or abrupt in the condu- 
V fion of the rentence» on which the mind paufes and rc^s. 
** Thi& is the moift mateiial part in the ftrudlure of DiC* 
^' courfe. Here every hearer experts to be gratified } here 
*^ Jus applaufe breaks forth/' 



manner in which the Sentence is rounded, t e: c t. 
and conduced to a full and harmonious 

The fanr^e holds in melody, that I obfcrrcd 
to take place with refpeft to fignificancy; 
that a falling off at the end/ always hurts 
greatly. For this reafon, particles, pronbuns, 
and little words are as ungracious to the ear, 
at the conclufion, as I formerly fhewed they 
were inconfiftent with ftrength of expreflion. 
It 'is more than probable, that the fenfe and the 
found have' here a mutual influence on each 
other. That which hurts the ear, fcems to 
mar the ftrength of thie meaning; and that 
which really degrades the fenfe, in cdnlc- 
qiience of this ^primary effeft, appears alfo to 
have a bad found. How difagreeable is the 
following Sentence of an Author, fpeaking of 
the Trinity ! " It is a myftery which we firmly 
** believe the truth of, and humbly adore the 
^^ depth of," And how eafily might it have 
been mended by this tranfpofition^! *^ It is a 
*' myftery, the truth of which we firmly be- 
*^ lieve, and the depth of which we humbly 
-** adore.*' In general it feems to hold, that a 
mufical clofe, in our language, requires eithei: 
the laft fyllable, or the laft but one, to be a 
ilong fyllable. Words which eonfift moftly 
of ftiort fyllables, as,^ contrary, ^rfuular^ fetrji^ 
ffi^i . feldom> conclude a Sfentence harmoni- 



33t> HAJ^MCmy. OF 6ENTJENC£S. 

hits (roodened .them ;9gre£abik to the ear* 

It is ncceffary, however, to obferve, that 
S«ftt^&cs» fo xioniiiHldled ds tomatk^rtheiound 
^'Ways fwell and !grow towaiKls tbe eed^ and 
:«6 reft eiihcir oa a long ^r a penult iofig fyL- 
lable, give adi&ourfe the i^Ae ^f declamatico^ 
The ear foon becomefi acquainiied with the 
^melody, and is ^pt to be cloyed vfkh k. M 
we would keep jup the rattention of thfc r^^ 
'Or hearer^ if wsc would prcferve vivacity M& 
.llrength in our compoiitioc^ mc ni^i^ft ;bjs very 
.attentive to varyour meafures. This regards 
the diftribution of the nien^bers, as w^li;asi:jbe 
Gadence of the Period. Senteiaices eonftruSted 
in a fimilar manner, ^ith ; the rpai^s £j|)|ii9g 
^t equal intervals, ihould nev^r i^llq^w, one 
fiuiother. Short Sentences Should Aie ini^T' 
mixed with loog and fweliing ones, tp renidcr 
difcourfc fprightly, as well as magnificent. 
'Even difcordsj properly introduoedi .abrupt 
ibvnds, departures from ft^Mhr i^adcnGe, 
kwt liKtHDeum^fi la jgood reffe^t^ .Monoroay fs 
the.great./ajjlf iioto.Msbich writefcs lare apt to 
fally who : are food K^f hai^ROoiDus , arcattgc- 
nvmt : aad ito have lOaly one tune, jir nKeafure, 
is.AOt nxikoh ibetter (than having mone at alL 
jAl very ^ulgstf* parwJUrenftWe a wrifierto ^ch 
iipme otEe/.mek>dy, >and to. .^rm: chc; r un Mfif i bts 

ScAlffUCCS^^aGG^dfi^gjQ^.iti (f^Qh&m< pfXkY^ 

' difguftinjg. 

)»# i> 

H'Afel^ONY Ol?^Eritfe*TC^S. 


i^Tirfite for vzty'ir^ arid dtveffifymg fli« rht- 
bdy : 'and hence we fo {Md&i meet with au* 
thors, who are remarkably ^happy in rhh f6lpeft, 

TftotGtt attention ta the mulic df Sen- 
tences rftuft not be neglefted, ytft it muft alfo 
be kept within proper bounds : for ali appear- 
ances of an author's aflfefting harmoiry, arc 
difagrceable j efpecially when the love of it 
betrays him fo far, as to facrifice, in any 
iriftanee, peripiduity, precifion, or ftrength of 
ferttimettt, to found. AH nnmeamng wo^s, 
introduced mei-ely to round Ae 'Period, or 'fill 
tip the melody, cofTipUfntflfa nufnetorum^ as Ci- 
cero calls them, arfe gfe'^tblemiftics in writing. 
They are chlldifh and pcierlle ornaments, by 
which a Sentence always lofes more in point 
of weight, than it can gain by fuch additions 
to the beauty of its found, Senfe has its own 
harmony, as well as found; and, where the 
fenfc of a Period is ^xpreflcd witli clearnetsi 
force, and (dignity, it will feldom happen but 
the words will ftrike the car agreeably j at 
Icail, a very moderate attention is all that is 
requifite for making the cadence of fuch a 
Period pleafing : and the effeft of greater at- 
tention is often no other, than to render com- 
pofition languid and enervated. After all thte 
labour which -Q^tnftilian beftoWs on regu- 



.1. 5 c T. Utijrg the mcafurcs of profe, he comes -at laft, 
with his ufuai good feafcj to this conclufion :, 
<* In univerfuiti, fi fit necefle, duram potius 

^* atque afpcram compofitionem malim effe, 
** quam cfFcminatam ae cnervem, qualis apud 
^^ multos. Idcoqwe,. v^nfla qua^daro de in- 
<* duftria funt folvenda> ne Jabprata videantur ; 
" neque ulluin idoneum aut aptum verbum 
*• prascernaittamus, gratis lenitati?*." Lib. i?:. 

■c. 4, • 

Cicero, as I before, obferved, is ope of the 
moft remarkable patterns of a harmonious 
ftyle. His 4ove. of it> however, is too vifible ; 
wd the pomp of his numbers fpmetimes d^- 
trails from his ftrcngth. That noted clofc pf 
bi&> eje; i^ideatur^ v^hich, in the Oration Pro 
.Lege Manilia, occurs eleven times, expofed 
him to cenfure among his cotemporaries. We 
muft obferve, however, in defence of this great 
Orator, that there is a remarkable union in his 
ftyle, of harmony, with eafe^j which is. always a 
great beauty i and \i his harmony be ftudied. 

upon the whole^ I would rather chufe, that com* 
pofition (hould appear rough dnd harlh« if that be necef- 
(sLxy, than that it (hould b^e enervated apd effeminate, 
fuch as we find the ilyle 0/ too many. Some iientences, 
♦* therefore, which we have ftudioufly formed into melody, 
«• fhould be thrown loofe, that they may not feem too much 
M laboured ; nor ought ure ever td omit any proper orex- 
<* prefTivc wprd, for the-fakc Of fmoothing ap^rio,d,** 


tfiat ftudy appears to have coft him little l e c r4 

. 1 ^ XI If* 

i trouble* 

» .... 

AMONci our Englifti clalfics, hot miny art 
' diftinguiQied for miiifical arrartgement. Mil- 
ton, in fome of his profe works> has very 
finely turned periods 5 but the writers of his 
age indulged a liberty of inverfionj which 
now would be reckoned contrary to purity of 
(lyle: and though this allowed their Sentences 
I to be more ftately and fonorous, yet it gave 
them too much of a Latinized conftruiftion 
and ofderv Of later writers, Shaftfbury i^^ 
upon the whole, the moft correft in his num- 
bers< As his ear was delicate, he h^s attended 
tb itiuflc in all his Sentences; and he is. pcr 
culiarly happy in this refpe&, thzt he has. 
avoided the monotony into which writers, whp 
ftudy the grace of found, are very apt. to fall : 
having diverfified his periods with grjcat va* 
riety. Mr. Addifon has alfo much harmony 
in his ftyle; more eafy and fmooth,. hiitlefs 
varied, than Lord Shaftfbury. Sir William 
Temple is, in genei^kl, very flowing and agree^ 
able. Archbilhop Tillotfon is too often e^re* 
lefs and languid; and is much outdpne by 
bifhop Atterbury in the mufic of his periods^ 
Dean Swift . defpifed mufical arrangement al« 

Hitherto I have difcourfed of agreeable 
found, or modulation, in general. * It.yet r<-», 




L EC T. mains to trcar: of » higher beauty of this kind 5 
the found adapted to the fcnfc* The fori^pr^ 
was no more than a fimple accompaniment, to 
pUfih tK^ e^;" ; the Utcer fuppofcs a peculiar 
cxprtflioft given to the pdufic, Wfr m^y re* 
mark two. d^fgrecjB q( it: Firft, thjp current pf 
found, adapted to fbfl» tenor. qf ? difcpyrft; 

Btxt, a panicuJftir rcfcns)blao<;e effected between 
fame obje<9:, jtnd thu fQux^Js that a|*e rmpjoy^d 
in defortbi* 

Fmist^ I fay, the current of found cnay be 
adapted to the tenor of a difcaurfe. Sounds 
have, in many refpei5ts, a correfpondence with 
our ideas; partly natural, partly the <ffeA of 
artificial afibciations. Hence it bappcn$y rhaic: 
any one Jmbdujation^ x>f found contmued, im^ 
prints on our Style a certain char^^r and .ex-* 
ppcflian. Sentences (;dnftru&ed with the Ci- 
ceronian fulnefs and (well, produce the ifn* 
preffion of what is important^ magnificent, 
iedate; for this is tjsue nMura) tape which fuch 
a courfe of fentitnent aiTuni^s. 9i4t fhey fuit 
no violent. paifion, qo eager r^afoAing^ no fa- 
miliar addrefs*; Thefe always require n^eafures 
brifker, ica&er, and ofcen ipore abrupt. A^d^ 
tlierclbre, to fvdH, or to Jot dowA tj)e period^^ 
as the fubjflA ./deoiands, b a v^ry inaportant 
rule in oratory. No one tenor whatever, lup^ 
pofing it to produce no bad effe<5t from fatiety, 
will aniwer fx> all dtSereni compofitiops s Qor 
ei&en to all the parta of ihc Acne fompoG.^ 

6 tion^ 


tif>ti» It wei!e as abfurd to write a panegyric^ .i* b c t, 
and an inre£live> in ai ftyk of the fame ca-> 
dcnce, as to fet the words of a tender love« 
ibng to the air of a warlike march* 

Observe how finely the following Sentence 
of Ckcro is adapted^ .to reprefent Ute tran* 
f viUity ind cafe of a facisfied ftatc : ^' £ifi 
'^ homini nihil eft cnagis optwdum quam 
*f profperA^ sequabilLsj perpetuaque fortuna^ 
^' feci^ndo vitas fine uUa olfenfipne cisrfu:^ 
^' lamen> ft mihi tranquillaet plax:aia omnia 
<^ fuiflent, incr^dibiU quadatn ct pehe dtvind, 
<' qui nunc veftro beneiicio fritor^ lastitite 
•* volqptfilte caruifletn f •" Nothing \ms evfer 
more perfeA in its kind ; it paintjs^ if we.may* 
fo fpeakj to the ear. Bi^t) ^i^ho would not 
have lai^hed^ if Ci?;:ero had eoiployed fuch 
periods, or fuch a cadence as this» in LDv^iglv- 
ii>g ^gaiiift Mark Antony, or Catiline? What 
is re^ifite, theneforcj iSj that we previoufly 
fix» in our mind, a jufl idea of the ;gex^ral 
tone of found whjch fuits pur fubjeft i that i^k 
which t1i$ feattn^nts wq are to expref$, mo(); 
naturally uffomtj and in which they moft com*^ 
menly vent theni^lve$ i . whether round and 
fmooth, or (lately, and folemn, or brifk and 
quick, or interrupted and abrupt. This ge- 
neral idea muft dired the <¥K>dulation of our 
periods : to fpeak in the ftyle of mufica, oauft 

* Orat. ad Qjjmtts, ^ft^ Rcditotn. 




L B c T. glvC' US tb^ key notcj mud form the ground of 
the melody; varied and diverfified in parts, ac* 
cordingas either our fentimcncs are diverfified, 
or as is requifite for producing a fuitabte va- 
riety to gratify the ear* 

ir may be proper to remark j that our trdnA 
latbrs of the Bible have often been happy in 
fuitiijg their numbers to the fubjeft. Grave, 
folemn, and majeftic fubjeds undoubtedly re-' 
quire fuch an arrangement of words as runs 
much' on long fyllables; and^ particularly^ 
they require the clofe to reft upon fuch. The 
very firft verfcs of the Biblfe, are remarkable 
for this melody t <^lh the beginnirlg, God 
•* created th^ hea;vens and the earth j and the 
•* earth was^ without forni, and void; and 
*^ darkneis was upon the face of the deep j and 
*^ the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the 
*^ waters/' Several other paflages, particu^ 
lafly fome of the Pfalms, afford ftriking ex-^ 
amples of this fort of grave> melodious con- 
ft:ru£tion» Any compofition that rifes con* 
fidcrably above the ordinary tone of profc> 
fuch as monuniental infcriptions> and panegy-^ 
rical charaiflers^ naturally runs into numbers 
of thifi kind» 

f • • 

But, in the next place> befides the general 
torrefpondence of the current of found with 
the current of thought, there may be a more 



particular expreffion attempted, of certain ob- i-bct^ 
je<Ss, by means of refembling .founds^ .This 
can be, fometimes, accompliflied in pr9fe 
compofitipn ;, but there only in a more iainc 
degree ; nor is it fo much expected there. 
In poetry, chiefly, i^ is looked for ; w^iere at* 
tention to found is more demanded, and where 
the inverfions .an^ liberties, of poetical ilyle 
give us a greater command of found ; alfifted, 
too,^ by the verfificatipni and that cantus ob-* 
JcurioVy to which we are naturally led in read- 
ings poetry. This requires a little rhore illuf- 

. The founds of words , may be employed 
for reprefenting, chiefly, three claflfes of ob- 
5e£ts i firft, . other founds \ iecondly, motion i 
and, thirdly^ the emotions and pafllons of the 

- First, I fay, by a proper choice of words, 
we may produee.a rtfcitxblaoce of other found* 
which we mean to defcribe ; fuch as, the noif<| 
of waters, the roaring of winds, or the mqr* 
muring 6f flreanis. . This is the limpleft in- 
fta^ce of this fort of beauty. , For the mediym 
through which we imitate,, here, i^ a natural 
one ; founds reprefented by other founds ^ 
and* between ideals of" tlie faitife fenfe, it is cafy 
to form a c6nne9:iOff. ' No very great art is 
required in a poet, when he is defcribing 
Vol. I. ^ Z fwecj 


^ B c T. fwcce and foft fouDds^ to make ufc of fucb 
words as have moft liquids and vowels^ and. 
glide the fofteft^ or, when he is defcribing 
harfh founds^ to throw together a number of 
harfh fyllables which are of difficult pronuncia- 
tion. Here the eonmnon ftrufture of Lan* 
guage aftifts him i for^ it will be found, that, 
in moft Languages, -the names of many par-^ 
ticular founds are fo formed, as to carry fomc 
affinity to the found which they fignifyi as 
with us, the ^btfilhg of winds, the iuz and 
Bum of infedh, the bj/s of ierpents, the craflb of 
falling timber ; and many other inftances, 
where the word has been plainly framed upon 
the found it reprefents. I ihall produce a re* 
mark^blc example of this beauty from Milton, 
taken from two pafTages tn Paradife Loft, de« 
fcribing the found made, in the one^ by the 
opening of the gates of Hell $ in the other, by 
the opening of thofe of Heaven. The con- 
traft between the two, diffrfays, to great advan- 
tage, the poet's art. The firft is the opening 
*f Hell's gates x 

On a fudden, open fly. 

Witli Impetuous recoil, and jarring found, 
Th' infarnal doors ; and on their hinges grate 
Harfli thmtder. -»-<-. B* tt 

Qbfcrve, (>ow, tbk ^f^noqthiiefs of the other : 

He^^en opened wide 

■■ " x**, 

Her ever-during gates> barmonious founds 

On golden binges turning.—— fi« tt« 



"the following beautiful paflagc from Taflb's ^ J^c t. 
Gicrufalemqne^ has betn often admired, on 
account of the imitation effefted by found of 
the thing reprefcntcd : 


Chiama gli habitator de I'ombre eterne 
II rauco fuon de la Tartarea tromba : 
Treman le fpaciofe atre caverne, 
£t l*acr deco a qnel rumor rimbomba s 
Ni ftridendo cofi da le fiiperne 
Kegioni dele cieloy il folgor piomba;] 
Ne (i fcofTa giammai \a terra, 
Quand i vapori in fen gravida (erra. 

Cant. IV. Stan«. 4^ 

Tnt lecond clafs of 6bje£ts> which the found 
of words is often employed to imitatei is^ 
Motion i as it is fwifc or flow, violent or gen« 
tie, equable or interrupted, eafy or aceompa^ 
nied with effort. Though there be no natural 
affinity between foundj of any kind, and mo- 
tion, yet, in the imagination, there is, a ftrong 
one i OS appears from the connexion between 
mufic and dancing. And, therefore, here ic . 
U io the poet's power to give us a lively idea 
of the kind of motion be would defcribe, by 
n)ew3 of founds which correi^pnd« in our 
iipa^nation^ with th^t motloiv Longfylla- 
bles naturally give the imprelEon of flow mo* 
tion ; as in this line of Virgil : 

Oni jnter fefe magna n brachta tollunf. 

■*• • . » 

Z* a A fue- 


t E c T. A fucceffion of fliort fyllables prefents quick 
motion to the mind ; as^ . 

Quadrupedante putrem fdnitu quatit ungula campum. 


Both Homer and Virgil are great mailers 
of this beauty, and their works, abound with 
inftances of it 3 moft of them, indeed, fo often 
quoted and fo well known, that it is needlefs 
to produce them, I (hall give one inftance, 
in Englifhi which feems happy. It is the de- 
fcription of a fiidden calm on the feas, in a 
Pocmj entitled. The Fleece. 

With eafy courfe 

• The veflels glide ; unlefs their fpeed be ftopp'd 

. By dead calms, that oft lie on thefe fmooth feas 

• When cv'ry zephyr flecps;. then the fhrouils diop; 
. The dgwny feather, ©n the cordage hung. 

Moves not ; the flat fea Ihines like ydlow gold 
Fus'd in the fire, or like the marble floor . 
Of Tome old temple wide. 

The third fet of objefts, which I mentioned 
the found of words as capable of reprefenting, 
cbnfifts of the paflions artdemorions of the 
mind.' Sound may, at firft view, appear fo- 
reign. t6 thefe 5 bur; that here, alfo, there is 
fomfe fort of cohnedtion, li fuificiently proved 
by the power which mufic has to awaken, or 
to affift certain pafflons, atid, according as its 
ftrain is varied, to introduce one train of ideas, 
rather than another. This, indeed, logically 

^ fpeakin^ 


fpeaking, cannot be called a refemblaace be- l e. c t.- 
twecn the fenfe and the found, feeing long or 
Ihort fyllables have no natural refemblance to 
any thought or paflion. But if the arrange- 
ment of fyllables, by their found alone, recal 
one fct of ideas more readUy than, another, 
^nd difpofc the mind for entering into that 
affcdion which the poet means to raifc, fuch 
arrangement may, juftly enough, be laid to 
refemble the fenfe, or be fimilar and corre- 
spondent to it. I admit, that, in many ina- 
ftances, which are fuppofed to difplay this 
beayty of accommodation of found to the 
fenfe, there is much room for imagination to 
work ; and, according as a reader is (truck by 
a paflage, he will often fancy a refemblancp 
between the found and the fenfe, which others 
cannot difcover. He modulates the number^ 
to hi? 0|yn difpofition of mind ; and, in cfFeft, 
makes the mufic which he imagines himfclf to 
hear. However, that there are real inftances 
of this kind, and that poetry is capable of 
forne fuch expreffion, cannot be doubted. 
Dryden's Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, affords a 
very beautiful exemplification of it, in the 
Englifti Language. Without much ftudy or 
refleftion, a poet defcribing pleafure, joy, and 
agreeable objedts, from the feeling of his fub- 
jcft^ naturally runs into fmooth, liquid^ an^l 
jBowing numbers. 




L K c T. ^— -Namquc ipfa decolram 

Caefariem nato genetrix, lumenque juventse 
Purpureum, et laetos oculis afflarat honores. 



Peven^re loco§ laetos & amaena vlreta, 
l^ol-tunatorutTl nemoruiti, fedef^ue beat^d ; 
Largior hie campos aether, & lumine veftit 
Purpurto, folemque fuurn, &a fidera adrant. 

Mn. VI. 

Brifk and lively fenr^tions c%d.& quicker and 
more animated numbers, 

•>-«»- Juvenutn tndnus emlcat alrdens 
JLittus in Hefpcriuoi* MVk VII. 

Melancholy and gloomy fubjefts naturally 
rxprefs tbemfdvcs in flow meafures^ and long^ 
words ; 

In tho& deep folitudes and awful cells^ 
Where heavenly penfivQ contemplation dwells^ 

£t caHgantem nigra fonnidine lueum. 

I HAVB now given fufficient openings into 
this fubje£t: a moderate acquaintance with 
the good poets, either antient or modern^ wiU 
fuggeft many inftances of the fame kindt 
And with this, I finifli the difcuffion of the 
• Strufture of Sentences; having fully con* 
iidercd them under all the heads I mentioned 1 
of Perfpicuity, Unity, Strength, and Mufical 

* » » ■ II * I mammmfimm i n . i» i i ■ i ■ i | ■ ■ i ■ i ■■ ■ ' ■■ 





HAV I N G now finiflied what relied to l b c t. 
the conftrudion of Sentences, I proceed *^^ 
CO other rules concerning Style. My general 
divifion of the qualities of Style, was into Per-'* 
ibicuity and Ornament. Perfpicuity, both in 
fingle words and in fentences, I have condder- 
^. Ornament, as far as it arifes from 4 
graceful, ftrong> or melodious conftrUftion of 
words, has alfo been treated of. Another^ 
and a great branch of the ornament of Style, 
is. Figurative Language ; which is now to b^ 
the ijubjefi: of our confider^tioDj and will re-> 
i^uire a fuU difcu0iofi. 

Our firft enquiry muft be^ Wh^t is meant 
^y Figures of Speech * ? 

-t Qa t^t fdbjedl of Figures of Speech| all the writer$ 
ffho treat of rtetoric or compofitionji havp iniiiied largely. 

?f4 Tq 


t e c T, In genera]^ they always imply fomc depar- 
ture from fimplicity of cxprcffionj the idea 
which we intend to convey, not only enuti- 
ciated to others, but enunciated in a parti- 
cular manner, and with Tome circumftance 
added, which is defigned to render the impref- 
fipn more (Irong and vivid. When I fay, for 
inftance, " That a good man enjoys comfort 
** in the midft of adverfity /' I juft exprefs my 
thoqght in the fimpleft manner pofllble. But* 
when I fay, " Tq th? upright there arifeth 
** light in darknefs j'' the fame fcntiment is 
exprefled in a figurative Style; a new circum- 
ftance is introduced ; light is put in the place 
of comfort, and darknefs is ufed to fugged the 
idea of adverfity. In the fame manner, to 
fay, " It is impoffible, by any fearch we can 
<? make, to explore the divine nature fully," 
i^ to make a Ample proppncion. But when we 
fay, " Ganft thou, by fearching, find out 
** God ? Canft thou find out the Almighty tq 
** perfedbion ? It is high as Heaven, what 
<5 c?nft tfipu do ? deeper than Hell, what 

To make references, thereForc, on this fubjedl, were end- 
lefs. On the foundatioirs of Figurative Lahgaage, in ge«> 
neral, one of the i^ft feniible and inflrudlive writers ap* 
pe^rs ^o me to bt M. Marfais, in his Traite des Trofis 
four fervir d* InttoduSion a la Rhetorique, ^ a la Logique^ 
For obfervatio'ns 6n particqlar Figures; the Elements of Cri- 
$ieifin may be confulted, where the fubjed is fully handled^ 
fnd ijli^^ated by a great v^fiet^ of examples. 

^* canft 



*^ canft thou know ?" This introduces a Figure l e c t, 
into Style j the proportion l^eing not only cx- 
prefled, but admiration and aftoniihment be- 
ing exprefled together with it. 

But, though Figures imply a deviatioa 
from what may be reckoned the moft fimpie 
form of Speech, we are not thence to con* 
elude, that they imply any thing uncommon» 
or unnatural. This is fo far from being the 
cafe, that, on very many occafions, they arc 
both the moft natural, and the moft common 
method of uttering our fentiments. It is im* 
poflible to compofe any difcourfe without 
ufing them often; nay, there are few Sen* 
tences of any length, in which fome expreffion 
or other, that may be termed a Figure, docs 
not occur. From what caufes this happens^ 
ihall be afterwards explained. The fa£t, in 
the mean time, ftiows, that they are to be ac- 
counted part of that Language which nature 
didates to men. They are not the invention 
of the fchools, nor the mere produ6l of ftudy : 
on the contrary, the moft illiterate fpeak in 
Figures, as often as the moft learned. When*: 
ever the imaginations of the vulgar are much 
awakened, or their paflions inflamed againft 
one another, they will pour forth a torrent of 
Figurative Language, as forcible as could be 
employed by the moft artificial declaimcr. 



t E c T. What then is it, which ha$ ijradwii the at- 
^'^' tention of critics and rhetoricians fo much td 
thcfe forms of Speech ? It is this: They re#- 
marked, that in them confifts much of the 
beauty and the force of Language ; and found 
them always to bear fome chara&ers, or dif- 
tinguifliing marks, by the help of which they 
could reduce them under fep^rate clailes and 
heads* To this> perhaps^ they owe their name 
of Figures* As the figure, or fliape of one 
body, diftinguiibes it from another^ fo thefe 
forms of Speech have, each of them, a caft or 
turn peculiar to itfelf^ which bodi diftin* 
§;ui(hes it ftom the reft, and diftinguiibes 
it from Simple Expreflion. Simple £x#> 
l^elfion juft makes our idea known to others i 
but Figurative Language, over and above, 
beftows a particular drefs upon that idea; 
4 drefs, which both, makes it be. remarlcedt 
and . adorns it. Hence, this fort of Lan* 
guage became early a capital obje£i: of attei^r 
tion to thofe who ftudied the powers of 
Speech. * 

FiouRis, in general, may be defcribed to be 
that Language, which is prompted either by 
the imagination, or by the paffions. The juft? 
ncfs of this dcfcription will appear, from the 
more particular account I am afterwards tg 
give of them. Rhetoricians commonly di- 
vide them into two great claflcs ; Figures of 
4 Words, 



Word$i and Figures of Thought* The for* hzcr^ 
mer. Figures of Words, are commonly called 
Tropes* and confift ^ in a word's being em*- 
ployed to fignify fomething that Is di^crenc 
from its original and primitive meanings fo 
that if you alter the word» you deftroy the 
Figure. Thus, in the inftance I gave before i 
«' Light arifeth to the upright^ in dai'knefs/* 
The Trope confifts in ** light and darknefs,'* 
being not meant literally^ but fubftituted for 
comfort and adverfity, oo account of fome re^ 
iemblance or analogy which they ar« fup^ 
pofed to bear to thefe conditions of life. The 
other clafs, termed Figures of Thought^ fup* 
pofes the words to be ufed in their proper and 
literal meaning, and the Figure to confift in 
the turn of the thought.; as is the cafe in ex«- 
clamatioris^ interrogations^ apoftrophes, and 
compfarifoiis s where, chough you vary the 
words that are ufed> or tranflate them from 
ODe Language into another, you may, never^ 
tfaelefs^ ftill preferve the fame Figure in the 
Thought. This diftiii£lion, however, is of no 
great ufe ; as nothing can be built upon it in 
praftice; neither is it always very ^ clear. It 
is of little importance, whether we give to 
ibme particular mode of 'expreflioi;! the fiance 
^ a Trope, or of a Figure ^ provided we 
remember, that Figurative Language always 
imports Ibme colouring of the imagination^ 
^ fome emotion of paffion, exprefled in our 




L « c^T, Style : And, perhaps. Figures of Imagination, 
and Figures of Paffion, might be a more ufe- 
ful diftribution of the fubjedt. But, without 
inlifting on any artificial divifions, it will be 
more ufeful, that I enquire into the Origin 
ftnd the Nature of Figures. Only, before I 
proceed to this, there are two general obfcrvaT 
tions which it may be proper to premife. 

The firft is, concerning the ufe of rules with 
refpeft to Figurative Language. I admit, 
that perfons may both fpeak and write with 
propriety, who know not the names of any of 
the Figures of Speech, nor ever ftudied any 
rules relating to them. Nature, as was before 
obferved, diftates the ufe of Figures ; and, 
like Monf. Jourdain^ in Moliere, who had 
fpoken for forty years in profe, without ever 
knowing it, many a one ufes metaphorical ex- 
preflions to good purpofe, without any idea of 
what a metaphor is. It will not, howeveri 
follow thence, that rules are of no fervicc. 
All fcience arifes from obfervations on prac- 
tice. Pradtice has always gone before method 
and rule ; but method and rule have after- 
wards improved and- pcrfefted pradtice, in 
every art. We, every day, meet with perfons^ 
who fing agreeably,, without knowing one 
note of the gamut. ' Yet, it has been found 
of importance to reduce thefe notes to a fcale, 
and to form an art of mulic i and_ it would be 



ridiculous to pretend, that the art; is of no ad- t e c^. 
vantage, becaufc the praftice is founded in 
pature. JPropriety and -beauty of Speech, are 
certainly as improveable as the ear or the 
voice i, and to. know the principles of this 
beauty, - of the reafons which render one 
Figure, or one manner of Speech, preferable 
to another, cannot fail to aiTiit and dired a 
proper choice. 

But. I muft obfervc, in the next place, that, 
although this part of Style merifs attention, 
and is a very proper objeft of fcience and rule j 
although much of the beauty of compofition 
depends on Figurative Language i yet we 
m^uft beware of imagining that it depends 
folely, or even chiefly, upon fuch Language. 
It IS not fo. The great place which the doc- 
trine of Tropes and Figures has occupied in 
fyftems of rhetoric 5 the over-anxious care 
which has been fhewn in giving names to a 
vaft variety of them, and in ranging them 
under different clafles, has often led perfons 
to imagine, that, if their compofition was 
well befpangled with a-number of thefe orna- 
rnents of Speech, it wanted no other beauty j 
whence has arifen much flifFnefs and affeda- 
tion« For it is, in truth5 the fentiment or 
pallion, which lies under the figured expref- 
fion, that gives, it any merit. The Figure is 
QvAf the drefs.}. the Senttnoent is the body and 




t E c T. the fubftance. No Figures will render a cold 
or an empty compofition intercftingj whereas, 
if a fcntiment be fublimc or pathetic, it can 
fgpport itfelf perfeftly well, without any bor- 
rowed affiftance. Hence feveral of the tnoft 
affefting and admired paffages of the beft au- 
tliors, are expreflcd in the fimpleft language. 
The following fentimcnt from Virgil, for 
inftance, makes its way at once* to the hearty 
without the help of any Figure whatever. 
He is defcribing an Argive, who falls in bat- 
tle, in Italy, at a great diftance from his na^ 
tive country : 

Sternitiir, infelix, alieno vtilnere, ccrfutnqtie 
Arpicit^ ct dulces moricnt temimfcitur Argos ** 


* " Anthares haH from Arj^os travelled 'ftr, 
y Alcidfe*' friend^ and brothrf of the war ; 
Now falling, by AMtber^s woatd, kit e)rc» 
He e»fts «o Hf avieoi on Argot Mak^, ajft4 4it^**^ 

Iki tkis tnmfiatkfii ttiticb of the beautjr of Ike oi^hal b 
loft. *' On Arffn t^kt wfii 4tf li^ is by ae peani pq^it 
to " dulces Qiorlensreminifcitttr Ar^os;'* ** Aj kc dipj, be 

•♦ remembers bis beloved Argos.** 1( is indeed obierv- 

able, tbat iti moil of thoib tender and pathetic paflkgeSy 
i^kich do fo m^ttcb hoAosr to Virgil, that gpeat poet 4»» 
jtffl^ hiihlelf wkh tbjP iitoioft topliptyi .a^ 

Te« ^«lcfs Gonjinfy te (bio in Kttere feeum, 
: Te Yenieae die> oe ikcednue cMuebai* Oaa^Js^lY^ 




A fingle ftroke of this kind, drawn as by thi Ltc t. 
very pencil of Nature, is worth a thoufand 
Figures, In the fame manner, the fimple 
ftylc of Scripture : " He fpoke, and it was 
** donfe 5 he commanded^ and it ftood faft/^— - 
** God faid, there be light 5 ahd there wa4 
*^Jight/* imparts a lofty conception to much 
greater advantage, than if it had been deco- 
rated by the moft pompous metaphors. The 
faft is, that thp ftrong pathetic, and the pure 
fublime, not only have little dependance on 
Figures of Speech, but, generally, rejeftthcm. 
The proper region of thefe ornaments is, 
i?rhere a moderate degree of elevation and 
paflion is predominant} and there they con- 
tribute to the embellifliment of difcourfe. 
Only, when there is a bafis of folid thought 
and natural fentiments when they are infcrted 

— - - ■ ■ - - ■■'-'--■-'• ■>-- ■> ■ ■■-■:- 

And fo in that moving prayer of Bvander, upon his parting 

At Vos^ O Saperi ! et Divfim ta maxime rtdof 
Jtpker^ Arcadii qasfemiferefcice regis. 
S;< patriae aodhe preces. Si namina veftra 
IncQlumem Pallanta miki« fi fata refervant, 
& vlforas eum vivo^ et ventarus in uhum, 
Vitain oro ; patiar quemvis durare laborem I 
Sin aUq«em ittfandain cafuin, Fortvuasi, ininaris. 
Nunc, O Dime liceat crudelem abrumpere vitam I 
Pam caras ambigaas, dam fpes incerta futuri;, 
Dum tc, chare Paer ! mca fera ct fola volnptas I 
Ampiexu teneo ; grj^vior ite nuncins antes 
ViiU^tet-— Mtf. YIHt 57^^ 




hr EC T. In their proper place 5 and when they rife, of 
themfelves, from the fubjeft, without being 
fought after. 



. Having prennifed thcfe obfeiivations, I 
proceed to give an account of the origin and 
nature of Figures j principally of fuch as have 
their dependance on language ; including 
that numerous tribe, which the rhetoricians 
call Tropes. 

At the firft rife of language, men would 
begin with giving names to the different 
objefits which they difcerncd, or thought of. 
This nomenclature would, at the beginning, 
be very narrow. According as men's ideas 
multiplied, and their acquaintance with ob«» 
jeds increafed, their (lock of names and 
.words would increafe alfo^ But to the infinite 
variety of objefts and ideas, no language is 
adequate. No language is fo copious, as. to 
have a feparate word for every feparate idea. 
Men naturally fought to abridge . this labour 
of multiplying words in infinitum i and, in 
order to lay lefs burden on their memories, 
made one word, which they had already ap- 
propriated to a certain idea or objed, ftand 
alfo for fome other idea or objeft j between 
which and the primary one, they found, or 
fancied, fome relation. Thus, the prepo- 
fition, in, was originally invented to exprefs 



the cirGumftance of place t " The man Wis l 2 c t# 
killed in the wood." In progrefs of time, 
words were wanted to exprefs men's being 
connecSbed with certain conditions of fortune, 
or certain fituations of mind ; and fome _re- 
femblance, or analogy, being fancied between ' 
thefe, and the place of bodies, the word, in, 
was cmploj^ed to exprefs men's being fo cir- 
cumftanced; as, one*s being /» health or /zf 
ficknefs, in profpcrity or in adverfity, in joy 
or in grief, in doubt, or in danger, or in 
fafety. Here wc fee this prepofuion, in, 
plainly aflfuming a tropical fignification, or 
carried oflF from its original meaning, to 
fignify fomething elfe, which relates to, or 
rcfembles it* 

Tropes^ of this kind abound in all lail'- 
guages ; and are plainly owing to the want of . 
proper words4 The operations of the mind 
and affeftions, in particular, are, in moft 
languages, defer i bed by words taken from 
ftnfible objefts. The reafon is plain. The 
names of fenfible objedts were, in all lan- 
guages, the words moft early introduced j 
and were, by degrees, extended to- thofe 
mental objcfts, of which men had more ob- 
fcurc conceptions, and to which they found it 
more difficult to affign diftindt names. They 
borrowed, therefore, the name of fome fen- 
fible idea, where their imagination found 
fome affinity. Thus we fpeak of, a piercing 

Vol. I. . A a judgment. 


judgment, and a clear head; 2i Joft 6r a 
hard heart; a rough or ^ Jmooth behaviour. 
We fay, inflamed by anger, warmed by love, 
/welled with pride, melted into grief; and thefc 
are almoft the only fignificant words which wc 
have for fuch ideas. 

But, although the barrennefs of language, 
and the want of words, be doubtlefs one caufe 
of the invention of Tropes; yet it is not the 
Only, nor, perhaps, even the principal fourcc 
of this form of fpecch. Tropes have arifcn 
more frequently, and fpread thcmfelves wider, 
from, the influence which Imagination pofTefles 
over Language. The train on which this has 
proceeded among all nati6ns, I (hall endeavour. 
10 explain. 

Every objed which makes any impreflfion 
on the human mind, is conftantly accom- 
panied with certain circumitances and rela- 
tions, that (trike us at the fame time. It 
never prefents itfelf to our view, i/ole^ as th« 
French exprefs it; that is, independent on,* 
and feparated from, every other thing i but 
always occurs as fomehow related to other ob- 
jeds ; going before them, or following them; 
their effcft or their Caufe; refembling them, 
or oppofed to them ; diftinguifhed by certain 
qualities, or furrounded with certain circum- 
ftances. By this means, every idea or obje<5k 
carries in its train fome other ideas, which may. 



be Confidercd as its acceflbries. Thefe accef- L e c t. 

^ ' ^ . XIV 

fories often ftrike the imagination more than 
the principal idea itfelf. They are, perhaps^ 
more agreeable ideas j or they arc more fami- 
liar to our Conceptions 5 or they rccal to our 
memory a greater variety of important circum* 
ftances^ The imagination is mofe difpofed 
to reft upon fome of them i and therefore> 
inftead of ufing the proper name of the prin*- 
cipal idea which it means to exprefs, it em- 
ploys, in its place, the name of the acceflbry 
or correfpondent idea^ although the principal 
have a proper^ and well-knowrt name of its 
oWn. Hence a vaft Variety of tropical or 
figurative words obtain currency in all lan- 
guages, through choice, not neceflity; and- 
men of lively imaginations are every day add- 
ing to their number. 

Thus, when we defign to intimate the pe- 
riod at which a ftate enjoyed moft repu- 
tation or glory, it were eafy to employ the 
proper words for expreffing this j but as this 
is readily conneaed> in our imagination, with 
the flourifliing period of a plant or a tree, wo 
lay hold of this correfpondent idea, and fay^ 
" The Roman empire flourilhed ipoft under 
"Auguftus." The leader of a faftion, is 
plain language s but, becaufe the head is the 
principal part of the human body, and is fup** 
pofed to dired all the animal pperatioiis> reil« 
Utg upon this refcmblance, we fay, *' Catiline 

A a 2 *^ was 



I* E c T. « ^as the head of the party," The word. Voices 
was originally invented to fignify the articulate 
fgund, formed by the organs of the mouth j 
but, as by means of it men fignify their ideas 
and their intentions to each other. Voice fobn 
aflumed a great many other meanings, all de-* 
rived from this primary efFeft. " To give 
*5 our Voice" for any thing, fignified, to give 
our fentiment in favour of it* Not only fo ; 
but Voice was transferred to fignify any intima- 
tion of will or judgment, though given with- 
out the lead interpofition of Voice in its literal 
fenfe, or any found uttered at all. Thus we 
fpeak of liftening to the Voice of Confcience, 
the Voice of Nature, the Voice of God. This 
ufage takes place, not fo much from barren- 
ncfs of language, or want of a proper word, 
as from an allufion which we choofe to make 
to Voice y in its primary fenfe, in order to convey 
Qur idea, connedted with a circumftance which 
appears to the fancy to give it more fprightli- 
nefs and force. 

The account which I have ndw given, 
and which feems to be a full and fair one, 
of the introduction of Tropes into all Lan- 
guages, coincides with what Cicero briefly 
hint?, in his third book de Oratore. «' Mo- 
dus transferendi verba late pateC; quam 
neceflitas primum genuit, coa6ta inopia 
ct angullias^ poft autem deledtatio, ju<* 

" cunditafque 


'* cunditafque celebravit. Nam ut veftis, l e c t. 

^ frigoris depellendi caufa reperta primo, 

** poft adhibcri caepta eft ad ornatum etiam 

«« corporis et dignitatem, fic verbi tranflatio 

^ inftituta eft inopiae caufaj frequeqtata, de- 

^' ledtationis */* 

From what has been faid, it clearly ap^ 
pears, how that muft come to pafs, which I 
ha4 pccafion to mention in a fprmer Lefture, 
that all Languages are moft figurative in their 
early ftate. Both the caufes to which I afcribed 
the origin of Figures, concur in, producing 
this cffedt at the beginnings of fociety. Lan-? 
guage is then moft barren s the ftock of pro- 
per nam^s, which have been invented for 
things, is fmall ; and, at the fame time, 
imagination exerts great influence over the 
conceptions of men, and their npicthod of ut- 
tering ihem; To that, both from neceffity 
and from choice, their Speech will, at that 
period, abound in Tropes. For the favage 
tribes of men are always much given to won- 
der and aftonilhment. Every new objeft fur- 

* ** The figurative afage of words is very extenfive ; aa 
'* u(age to which neceilicy fird gave rife, on account of the 
paucity of words, and barrennefs of Language ; but 
which the pleafure that was found in it afterwards ren> 
<< dered frequent, por, as garments wer^ fix& contrived to 
" defend our bodies from the cold, and afterwards were 
•* employed for the purpofe of ornament and dignity, fo 
" Figures of Speech, introduced by want, were cultivated 
«*. for the fake of entertainment^*'^ 

A a 3 prifes^ 


prlfcs, terrifies, and makes a ftror>g imprcffiort 
on their mind j they are governed by imagi- 
nation and paflion, more than by reafon ; and> 
of courfe, their fpecch nuift be deeply tinftured 
by their genius. In faft^ we find, that this is 
the charadter of the American and Indian 
Languages; bold, pifturefque, and metapho- 
rical; full of ftrong allufions to fenfiblc quali- 
ties, and to fuch objefts as ftruck them moft 
in their wild and folitary life. An Indian chief 
makes a harangue to his tribe, in aftyle full of 
ftronger metaphors than a European would 
ufe in an epic poem. 

As Language makes gradual progrefs to- 
wards refinement, almoft every objeft comes 
to have a.proper name given to it, and Pcrfpi- 
cuity and Precifion are more ftudied. But, 
ftlU,* for the reafons before given, borrowed 
words, or, as rhetoricians call them. Tropes, 
mu£k continue to occupy a ^onfiderable place. 
In every Language, too, there are a multitude 
of words, which, though they were Figurative 
in their firft application to certain ohjefts^ yet^ 
by long ufe, lofe that Figurative power wholly, 
and come to be confidered as fimple and literal 
expreflions. In this cafe, are the terms which 
I remarked before, as transferred from fen- 
fible qualities to the operations or qualities of 
the fnind, a ^/Vm^g* judgment, a clear head, a 
bard heart, and the like. There arc other 
words which remain in a fort of middle ftate ; 



wliich have neither loft wholly their Figurative l e c t« 
application, nor yet retain fo much of it, as 
to innprint any remarkable charafter of figured 
Language on our Style j fuch as thefe phrafes, 
'^ apprehend one's meaning;*' " enter on a 
*' fubjefti" *^ follow out an argument/' 
*^ ftir up ftrifej" and a great many more, of 
which our Language is full. In the ufc of 
fuch phrafes, correft writers will always pre^ 
fcrve a regard to the figure or allufion on which 
they are founded, and will be careful not to 
apply them in any way that is inconfiftent 
with it. One may be " flickered under the 
^* patronage of a great man ;" but it were 
wrong to fay, ^* fheltered under the mafque of 
** diffimulation j" as a mafque conceals, but 
does not flielter. An objcft, in defcription, 
may be " clothed," if you will, *^ with epi- 
f^ thcts i" but it is not fo proper tp fpeak of 
its being " clothed with circumftances i" as 
the word ** circumftances,'' alludes to (landing 
round, not to clothing. Such attentions as 
thefe, to the propriety of Language, are requi- 
fite in every compofition. 

What has been faid on this fubjed, tend«i 
to throw light on' the nature of Language in 
general -, and will lead to the reafons. Why 
Tropes or Figures contribute to the beauty 
apd gr^ce of Style^ 

A a 4. ?^RST^ 


First, They enrich Language, and render 
it more copious. By their means, words and 
phrafes arc multiplied for exprefling all forts 
of ideas j for defcribing even the minuted 
difFerenees ; the niceft fhades and colours of 
thought; which no Language could poflibly 
do by proper words alone, without afliftandc 
from Tropes. 

Secondly, They beftow dignity upon Style. 
The familiarity of common words, to which 
our ears are much accuftomed, tends to de- 
grade Style. When we want to adapt oitr 
Language to the tone of an elevated fubjeft, 
we (hould be greatly at a lofs, if we could not 
borrow afliftancc from Figures ; which, pro- 
perly employed, have a fimilar effeft on Lan- 
guage, with what is produced by the rich and 
fplendid drefs of ^ perfon of rank ; to create 
refpcdt, and to give an air of magnificence to 
him who wears it. Affiftance of this kind, is 
often needed in profe compoiitions ; but poetry 
could not fubfift without it. Hence Figures 
form the conftant Language of poetry. To 
fay, that " the fun rifes/' is trite and com- 
mon ; but it becomes a magnificent image 
when expreffcd, as Mr. Thomfon has done : 

But yonder comes the powerful king of day 
Rejoicing in the eaft. ■■■ 



To Hiy, that *^ all men are fubjeft ^likc to L ^ ^'t, 
** deach,'' prefents only a vulgar idea j but it 
rifes and fills the imagination^ when painted 
thus by Horace: 

Pallida mors aequo pulfat pcde, pauperum tabernas 
Regumque turres^ 


Omnes eodem cogitnur; omnium, 
Verfatur urna, ferius, ocyus, 
Sors cxitura, & nos in eternum 
£xilium impofitura cymbae ** 

In the third place, Figures give us the plea^ 
fuce of enjoying two objefts prefented toge- 
ther to our view, without confufion j the prin- 
cipal idea, which is the fubjed of the dif- 
courfe, along with its acceflbry, which gives it 
the figurative drefs. We fee one thing in an- 
other, as Ariftotle expreffes it j which is always 
agreeable to the mind. For there is nothing 
with which the fancy is more delighted, than 
^ith comparifons, and refemblances of ob- 
jefts ; and all Tropes are founded upon fomc 
relation or analogy between one thing and an- 

• With equal pace, imjiartial fate 

Knocks at the palace, as the Cottage gate. 


We all muft tread the paths of /ate ; 

And ever fhakes the mortal urn ; 
"Whofe lot embarks us, foon or late, | 

Qn Charon's boat ; ah! never to retoru, Francis. 




L E c T. Other. When, for inftance, in place of ^'youth,^ 
I fay, the '^ morning of life 5" the fancy ia^ 
immediately entertained with all the rcfem- 
bling circumftances which prclcntly occur be- 
tween thefe two objefts. At one moment, I- 
have in my eye a certain period of human life, 
and a certain time of the day, fo related to each 
other, that the imagination plays between them 
with pleafure, and contemplates two fimilar 
objefts, in one view, without embarraffment 
or confufion. Not only fo, but^ 

In the fourth place. Figures arc arte^ided 
with this farther advantage, of giving us fre- 
quently a much clearer and more (triking 
view of the principal objed, than we could 
have if it were cxprefled in fimplc terms, and 
divefted of its acceffory idea. This is, indeed, 
their principal advantaige, in virtue of which, 
they are very properly faid to illuftrate a fub-- 
jeft, or to throw light upon it. For they ex* 
hibit the objedt, on which they are employed; 
in a'pidurefque form; they can render an ab- 
ftraft conception, in fome degree, an object 
of fenfe ; they furround it with fuch circum- 
ftances, as enable the oiind to lay hold of it 
fteadily, and to contemplate it fully, *^ Thofe 
^* perfons,** fays one, *' who gain the hearts 
^* of moft people, who are chofen as the com- 
<* panions of their fofter hours, and their 
V reliefs from anxiety a^nd care, are feldom 
8 ^' perfoni 


«.' perfons of fhining qualities, or ftrong vir- 
** tues : it is rather the foft green of the foul, 
** on which we reft our eyes, that are fatigued 
** with beholding more glaring objofts/' 
Here, by a happy allufion to a colour, the 
whole conception is conveyed clear and ftrong 
to the mind in one word. By a well-chofea 
Figure, even convi(5lion is aflifted, and the 
impreffion of a truth upon the mind, made 
more lively and forcible than it would other- 
wife be. As in the following iiiuftration of 
Dr. Young's ; " When we dip too deep in 
*' pleafure, we always ftir a fediment that ren- 
*^ ders it impure and noxious i*' or in this, 
*' A heart boiling with violent paffions, will 
*^ always fend up infatuating fumes to the 
'^ head/* An image that prefents fo much 
congruity between a moral and 4 fenfible idea* 
ierve$ like an argument from analogy, to 
enforce what the author a0i?rts, and to induce 

Besidips, whether we are endeavo\iring to: 
raife jfentimcnts'cf pleafure or averfion, we 
can always heighten the emotion by the Figures 
which we introduce $ leading the imagination 
to a train, either of agreeable or difagreeable, 
of exalting or debafing ideas, correfpondent 
to the impreffion which we feek to make* 
When wc want to render an objcft beautiful, 
or magnificent^ we borrow images from all 



t E c T. the moft beautiful or fplendid fcencs of na^ 
ture i we thereby, naturally, throw a luftrc 
over our obje£t -, we enliven the reader's mind, 
and difpofe him to go along with us, in the 
gay and pleafing impreffions which we give 
him of the fubjeft. This efFcct of Figures 
is happily touched in the following lines of 
Dr. AkenGde, and illuftrated by a very fublime 
l^igure ; 

•Then the inexpreffive ilrain 

DlfFufes its enchantment. Fapcy dreams 
Of facred fountains and^lyfian groves. 
And vales of bliTs. The intelledual power 
Bends from his awful throne a wond'ring ear. 
And fmilcs,—— PlcaC of Imaginat. L 124. 

What I have now explained, concerning 
the ufc and effefts of Figures, naturally leads 
us to refleft on the wonderful power of Lan- 
guage I and, indeed, we cannot reBedt on it 
without the higheft admiration. What a fine 
vehicle is it now becon\e for all the concep- 
tions of the human mind 5 even for the moft 
fubtile and delicate workings of the imagina- 
tion ! What a pliant and flexible inftrumcnt 
in the hand of one who can employ it Ikilfully j 
prepared to take every form which he chufes 
to give it ! Not content with a fimple com- 
munication of ideas and thoughts, it paints 
thofe ideas to the eye; it gives colouring and 
relievo, evca to the nwft abftradt conceptions. 



In the Figures which it ufes, it fets mirrort L e c t* 
before us, where we may behold objeds, a 
jfecond time, in their likenefs. It entertains 
us, as with a fucceflion of the moft fplendid 
piftures ; difpofes, in the moft artificial man- 
ner, of the light and fhade, for viewing every 
thing to the beft advantage ; in fine, from 
being a rude and imperfeft interpreter of men's 
wants and necefiities, it has now paiTed into 
an inftrument of the moft delicate and refined 

To make thefc effefts of Figurative Lan* 
guage fenfible, there are few authors in the 
Englifti Language, whom I can refer to with 
more advantage than Mr. Addifon, whofe 
imagination is, at once, remarkably rich, and 
remarkably correfl: and chafte. When he is 
treating, for inftance, of the efFeft which light 
and colours have to entertain the fancy, con- 
fidered in Mr. Locke's view of them as fecond- 
ary qualities, which have no real exiftence 
in matter, but are only ideas in the mind, with 
what beautiful painting has he ^adorned this 
philofophic fpcculation ? " Things,'* fays he, 
'^ would make but a poor appearance to the 
" eye, if we faw them only in their proper 
*^ figures and motions* Now, we are every 
•' where entertained with pleafing fhows and 
^' apparitions -, we difcover imaginary glories 
^^ in the heavens, and in the earth, and fee 

" fomc 



Ibmc of this vifionary beauty poured out 
upon the whole creation* But what a rough 
unGghtly fketch of nature fhould we be en*' 
tertained with, did all her colouring difap^ 
pear, and the fcveral diftinftions of light 
•'^ and flvade vanifh t In fliort, our fouls are, 
" at prefent, delightfully lofti and bewildered 
*^ in a pleadng deIu5on ; and We walk about> 
•• like the enchanted hero of a romance, who 
'* fees beautiful caftles^ woods, and meadows i 
** and, «t the fame time, hears the warbling 
*• of birds, and the purling of ftreams ; but, 
" upon the finifliing of fomfe fccret fpell, the 
^ fantaftic -fcene breaks up> and the difconfo- 
^ late knight finds himfclf on a barren heathy 
^ or in- a folitary defert. It is hot impro- 
•* babki that fomething like this may be the 
«* ftate of the foul after its firft feparation, in 
*' refpeft of the images it will receive from 
" matter.'* Noi 413. Spec. 

Having thus explained, at fufficient length, 
the Origin, the Nature, and the Effe<fts of 
Tropes, I fhould proceed next to the fcveral 
kinds and divifions of them. But, in treat- 
ing of thefe, were I to follow the common 
track of the fcholaftic writers oh Rhetoric, I 
Aould foon become tedious, and, I appre- 
hend, ufelefs, at the fame time. Their great 
bufinefs has been, with a moft patient and 
frivolous induftry, to branch them out under 

a vaft 


A vaft number of divifions, according to all ^ xir.*^* 
the fcveral nnodesin which a word may be car- 
ried from its literal meaning, into one that is 
Figurative, without doing any more ; as if 
the mere knowledge of the names and claiTes 
of all the Tropes th^t can be formed, could 
be of any advantage towards the proper or 
graceful ufe of Language. All that I puf- 
pofe is, to give, in a few words, before finilh- 
ing this Lefture, a general view of the feveral- 
fources whence the tropical meaning tff words 
is derived ! after which I fhall, in fubfequent* 
Lefbures, defcend to a more particular con^- 
fideration of fome of the moft, confiderable 
Figures of Speech, and fuch as are in 
moft frequent ufej by treating of which, 
I {hall give all the inflru£bion I can, con^* 
cerning the proper employment of Figura- 
tive Language, and point out the errors and 
abufes which aire apt to be committed in this 
part of Style. 

All Tropes> as 1 before obfervcd, are 
founded on the relation which one objeft bears 
to another ; in virtue of which^ the name of 
the one can be fubftituted inftead of the name 
of the other; and by fuch, a fubftitution> the 
vivacity of the idea is commonly meant to be 
increafed. Thefe relations, fomc more, fomc 
lefs intimate, may all give rife to Tropes^; 
One of the firft and molt obvious relations is, 



that between a caufe and its efFed. Hence, 
in Figtirative Language, the caufe is, fonic- 
tin^es, put for the effedt. Thus, Mr. Addifont 
' writing of Italy : 

Bloflbms, and fruits, and fIo\Vers, together rife^ 
And the whole year iii gay confufion lies. 

Where the " whole year" is plainly intended, 
to fignify the cffefts or produdlibns of all the 
fcafons of the year. At other times, again, 
the efFeft is put for the caufe ; as, *^ grey 
'* hairs*' frequently for old age, which caufes 
grey hairs ; and '' Ihadc," for trees that pro- 
duce the (bade. The relation between the 
container and the thing contained, is alfo fo 
intimate and obvious^ as naturally to give rife 
to Tropes ; 


tile impiger hauHt 

iSpumantem pater am & pleno fe proluit auro* 

Where every one fees, that the cup and the 
gold are put for the liquor that was contained 
in the golden cup. In the fanYe manner, the 
name of any Country, is often ufcd to denote 
the inhabitants of that country; and Heaven, 
very commonly employed to fignify God, bc- 
caufc he is conceived as dwelling in Heaven. 
Tp implore the • alfiftance of Heaven, is the 
fame as to implofe the afliftance of God. The 
gelation betwixt any eftabliihed fign and the 




thing fignifi^d, is a farthtr fource of Tropes. ^ \^ t* 

Cedant arma tog^ ; coticedat laur^a linguab; 

The «^ toga," being the badge of the civil 
profeflions, and the *^ laurel," of military ho* 
/iours, the badge of each is put for the civil 
And military chai-a^ers themfelves. To " af^ 
'* fume the fceptre," is a Common phrafe foir 
entering oft royal authority. To Tropes, 
founded on thefe fevcral relations, of Calif* 
and effeft, container and contained, fign and 
thing fignified, is given the name of Me- 

When the Trope is founded on the relation 
between an antecedent and a confequent, of 
what goes before^ and immediately follows, it 
is then trailed a Metalepfis ; as in the Roman 
phrafe of «^ Puit," or " Vi^tit,'* to cxprefs 
that one was dead. ** l**uit Ilium et ingens' 
" gloria Dardanidum," fignifies, that Che glofy 
of Troy is now no more. 


WflEN the whole i^ put for a part, or a part 
for the wholes a genus for a fpccies, or a 
Ipecies for a genus 5 the fingular for the 
plural, or the plural for the lingular num- 
bers in general, when any thing lefs, or 
any thing more, is put for the prccife 6b- 
je£t meant 1 the Figure i:s then called a Sy- 

VoL. I. R b necdoche. 


L E c T. nccdochc. It is very common,' for inftance, 
to defcribe a whole objcft by fomc remark- 
able part of it J as, when we fay, " A fleet 
" of fo many fail," in the place of *' Ihips;" 
when we ufe the " head" for the " perfon," 
the " pole" for the " earth," the '' waves'* 
for the " fea." In like manner^ an attri- 
bute may be put for a fubjeft ; as> " Youth 
f' and Beauty," for " the young and beau- 
" tiful i" and fometimes a fubje6t for its at- 
tribute. But it is needlefs to infift longer on 
this enumeration, which ferves little purpofe. 
I have faid enough, to give an opening 
into that great variety of relations between 
objeffcs, by means of which, the miiid is af- 
lifted, to pafs eafily from one to another,* 
and by the name of the one underftands the 
other to be meant. It is always fomc ac- 
ceffory idea, which recals the principal to 
the imagination 5 and commonly recals it with 
more force, than if the principal idea had been 

The relation which is far the moft fruit- 
ful of Tropes, I have not yet mentioned; 
that is the relation of Similitude and Rc- 
femblance. On this is founded^ what is 
called the Metaphor : when, in place of 
ufing the proper name of an/ objcft, we 
cmploy> in its place, the name of fpme other 
which is like it; which is a fort of piftufc 

6 ^ 



of it, and which thereby awakens the concep- l e c t, 
tion of it with iTiore- force or grace. This 
figure is more frequent than all the reft: put 
together ; and the language, both of profe 
and vcrfe, owes to it much of its elegance and 
grace. This, therefore, deferves very full and 
particular confideration ; and (hall be the fub- 
jeft of the next Lefture. 


Bb 2 





FTER the preliminary obfervations I 
have made^ relating to Figurative Lan- 
guage in general, I, come now to treat fcpa- 
rately of fuch Figures of Speech, as occur 
mod frequently; and require particular atten- 
tion : and I begin with Metaphor, This is 
a Figure founded entirely on the rcfcmWancc 
which one objedt bears to another. Hcncc^ 
it is much allied to Simile, or Comparrfonj 
and is indeed no other than a comparifon, cx- 
preffcd in an abridged form. When I fay of 
fbme great minifter, " that he upholds the 
•* ftate, like a Pillar which fapports the weight 
•^ of a whole edifice," I fairly make a com- 
parifon ; but when I fay of fuch a minifter, ' 
•« that he is the Pillar of the ftate,'*^ it is now 
become a Metaphor. The comparifon be- 
twixt the Minifter and a Pillar, is made in 
^ %; , the mindi but is exprefled without any of the 

^ ' words that denote comparifon^. The eom* 



parifon is only infinuated, not cxprefled : leg t. 
the one objedt is fuppofcd to be fo like the 
other, that, without formally drawing the 
comparifon, the name of the one may be put 
in the place of the name of the other. ^' The 
*^ minifter is the Pillar of the ft'ate/' Thii, 
therefore, is a more lively and animated man- 
ner of cxpreffing the refemblances which 
imagination traces among objefls. There is 
nothing which delights the fancy more, than 
chis a& of comparing things together, dif- 
covering refemblances between them, and de^ 
fcribing them by their likenels. The mind^ 
thus employed, is excrcifed without being 
fetigucd ; and is gratified with the confciouf- 
pcfs of its own ingenuity. We need riot be 
furprifed, therefore, at finding all Lan-? 
guage tinftured ftrongly with Metaphor. It 
infihuates itfclf cyen into familiar conver- 
fation ; arid, unfought, rifes up of its own 
accord \n the rnind. The very words whicl^ 
J have cafually employed in defcribing this, 
are a proof of what I fay ^ tinSluredy itiftnuatcA^ 
fifes upi arc all of them metaphorical ex- 
prefllons, borrowed front) fome refemblancer 
c .which fancy forms between fenfible objeds, 
and the internal operations of the mind i and 
yet the terms are no lefs clear, and, perhaps, 
more expreflive, than if words had been ufedj^ 
which were to be taken in the ftridt and literal 

fenfe. ' 

P b 3 TflOuqH 



Though all Metaphor imports comparifon, 
and, therefore, is, in that refpefl:, a Figure of 
thought i yet, as the words in a Metaphoi' 
are not taken literally, but changed from 
their proper to a Figurative fenfe, the Meta- 
phor is commonly ranked among Tropes or 
Figures of words. But, provided the nature 
of it be well underftood, it lignifies very 
little whether \fc call it a Figure or a Trope. 
I have confined it to the expreflion of refem- 
blance between two objefts. I mull remark, 
however, that the word Metaphor is fomctimcs 
ufed in a loofer and more extended fenfe j for 
the application of a term in any figurative fig- 
nification, whether the Figure be founded on 
refemblance, or on fome other relation, which 
two objefts bear to one another. For inftanccj 
when grey hairs are put for old age, as, " to 
•* bring one's grey hairs with forrow to the 
•* grave j" fome writers would call this a 
Metaphor, though it is not properly one, but 
what rhetoricians call a Metonymy -, that is, 
the efFeft put for the caufe; *' grey hairs" 
being the effefb of old age, but not bearing 
any fort of refemblance to it* Ariftodc, in 
his Poetics, ufes Metaphor in this extended 
fenfe, for any figurative meaning innpofcd 
upon a word i as a whole put for the part, or 
^ part for the whole ; a fpecies for the genus, 
or a genus for the fpecies. But it would he 
unjuft to tax this molt acute writer witli any 



inaccuracy on this account j the nriinutc fwb- t e c t. 
divifions, and various names of Tropes, being 
unknown in his days, and the invention of 
later rhetoricians. Now, however, when thefe 
divifions are eftablifhed, it is inaccurate to call ' 
ey^ry figurative ufe of terms, promifcuoufly, 
9, Metaphor. 

Of all the Figures of Speech, none comes 
fo near to painting as Metaphor. Its peculiar 
cffcft is to give light and ftrength to defcrip* 
tion 5 to make intellcftual ideas, in fome Ibrt, 
vifible to the eye, by giving them colour, and 
fubflance, and fenfible qualities. In order to 
produce this cffedt, however, a delicate hand 
is required j for, by a very little inaccuracy, 
\¥e are in hazard of introducing confufion, in 
place of promoting Perfpicuity. Several 
rules, therefore, are neceffary to be given 
for the proper^ management of Metaphors. 
But, before entering on thefe, I fhall give 
one inflance of a very beautiful Metaphor, 
that I may fhow the Figure to full advantage. 
I ihall| take my inflance from Lord Bpling- 
brokers Rentiarks Vn the Hiftory of England. 
Juft at the conclufion of his work, he is fpeak* 
ing of the behaviour of Charles I. to his lafl 
parliament: "In a word," fays he, ''about a 
" month after their meeting, he difTolved them; 
'' and, as fqon as he had diflblved them, he 
^' repented ; but he repented too late of his rall>- 

B b 4 " nefs. 



L f^e T. « ncfs. Well might he repent , for the vefie] 
•^ wus qpw full, and this laft drop rnade the 
*• waters of bittcrnefs overflow." ** Here," he 
adds, ^* we draw the cprtain, apd put an end 
?« to our remarks," Nothing could be more 
happily thrpwn off. The Metaphor, ^e fee, 
is fontinucd through fevcral expreffions.. Tho* 
veffel is put for the ftate or temper of the na^- 
fion already fulf, that is, - provoked to the 
higheft by former oppreflfions and wrongs i^ 
^his Ijo/i rfrf^, ftand$ fpr the provocation re^ 
cently received by the abrupt diflblution of 
the parliament i Nand the. oi^Jlowing of the 
^i^ters nf bitternejsy beautifully exprefies all 
the cffefts of refentment let loojfe by an cxaf- 
perated people. 

On this ps^flag^, we may make two rc^ 
marks in pafllng. The one, that notblQg 
forms a more fpirited acid dignified conclufion 
of a fubjedt, th^n a Figure of this kind happily 
placed at the clofe. Wc fee-xhe effed of it, 
ip thi» inftance. The author goes ojf with a 
good grace y and leaves a ftrong and fuH im- 
preflion of his fubjcft on tfce reader's mind. 
My other remark is, the advantage which a 
Metaphor frequently has above a formal com- 
parifon. How much would the fcntiment 
here have been enfeebled, if it had been ex- 
UFeflfed in the ftyle of a regular (imiie, thus : 
\\ Well might he repent \ for the ftate of the 
' " " nation. 


♦* nation^ loaded with grievances and provoca- l ? c t. 

^* cions^ rcfcmblcd a veffcl that was now full, 

»' and this fupcradded provocation, like the laft 

« drop infufed, made their rage and refent- 

^' ment, a3 waters of bitternefs, overflow/' It 

has infinitely more fpirit and force as it now 

(lands, in the form of a Metaphor. ^' Well 

*^ might he repent j for the veffcl was now fuUj 

** and this laft drop macje the waters of hitter-^ 

^' nefs overflow/* 

Having mentioned, with applaufe, this 
inflrance from Lord Bolingbroke, I think it 
incumbent on me here to take notice, that, 
though I may have recourfc to this author, 
fometimes, for examples of ftyle, it is his 
^ylc only, and not his fentiments, that de- 
fervc praife. It is, indeed, my opinion, that 
|here are few writings in the Englifti Lan- 
guage, which, for the matter contained in 
them, can be read with Icfs profit or fruit, 
than Lord Bolingbroke*s works. His political 
writings have the merit of a very lively and 
eloquent ftyle ^ but they have no other ; being, 
as to the Ajbftance, the mere temporary 
productions of faftion and party; no better 
indeed, than pamphlets written for the day. 
His Pofthumous, or, as they are called, his 
Philofophical Works, wherein he attacks re- 
]|]gion, have ftill lefs merit; for they arc a^ 
loofe in the ftyle as they are flimfy in the rea- 



378 M E T A P H O R. 

Toning. An unhappy inftance^ this author 
is, of parts and genius fo miferably perverted 
by faftion and paflion, that, as his memory 
will dcfcend to pofterity with little honour, fo 
hrs productions will foon pafs, and are, in- 
deed, already palling into negledl and obJi* 

Returning from this digreflion to the fu,b- 
jeft before us, I proceed to lay down the rules 
to be obferved in the condudt of Metaphors -, 
and which are much the fame for Tropes of 
every kind. 

The firft which I fhall mention, isi that 
they be fuited to the nature of the fubjedt of 
which we treat; neither too many, nor too 
gay, nor too elevated for it j that we neither 
attempt to force the fubjeft, by means of them, 
into a degree of elevation which is not con- 
gruous to it; nor, on the other hand, allow 
it to fink below its proper dignity. This is 
a diredtion which belongs to all Figuratiye 
Language, and fhould be ever kept in view. 
Some Metaphors are allowable, nay beautiful, 
in poetry, which it would be abfurd and 
unnatural to employ in profe 5 fomc may 
be graceful in orations, which would be 
very improper in hiftorical, or phllofophical 
compofition. We muft remember, that 
Figures are the drefs of ourfentimeots. As 




there is a natural congruity between drefs, and l f. c t. 
the.charader or rank of the perfon who wears < -^- ^ 
it, a violation of which congruity never fails to 
hurt J the fame holds precifely as to the appli- 
cation of Figures to fentiment. The cxcefllvc, 
or unfeafonable ennployment of them, is mere 
foppery in writing. It gives a boyifli air to 
compofition J and, inftead of railing a fubjeft^ 
in faft, diminifhes its dignity. For, as in 
life, true dignity muft be founded on charafter, 
not on drefs and appearance, fo the dignity of 
compofition rauft arife from fentiment and 
thought, not from ornament. The aflfeftation 
and parade of ornament, detraft as much from i 

an author, as they do from a man. Figures 
and Metaphors, therefore, (hould, on no oc- 
cafion, be ftuck on too. profufely; and never 
fhould be fuch as refufe to accord with the 
ftrain of our fentiment. Nothing can be 
more unnatural, than for a writer to carry on 
a train of reafoning, in the fame fort of 
Figurative Language which he would ufe in 
defcription. When he reafons, we look only 
. for perfpicuity 5 when he defcribes, we expecl 
embellilhment J when he divides, pv relates, 
wc defire plainnefs and fimplicity. One of 
'the greateft fecrets in compofition is, to know 
when to be fimple. This always gives a 
heightening to ornament, in its proper place. 
The right difpofition of the fhade, makes the 
light and colouring ftrike the nriore : '* Is enim 

*^ eft 


*' eft cloqucns/' fays Cicero, *^ qui et hu^ 
** milia fubtilitcr, ec magna gravitcr, et me-i 
*' diocria temperatp potcft dicere.-*Natn 
** qui nihil potcft tranquille, nihil leniter, 
^' nihil definite, diftinfltc, potcft diecre, 15, 
^' cum non praeparatis auribus inflammare rertl 
*' caepit, furerc, apud fanos, ct quafl inter fo»- 
^ brios bacchari temulentus ridctur */* Thif 
admonition fhould be particularly attended to 
by young praftitioners in the art of writing, 
who are apt to be carriedaway by an undiftin- 
guifiiing admiration of what is fhowy and 
florid, whether in its place or not f. 

* ^' He is truly eloquent^ who can difcourfe of hoai« 
*' ble fttbjeds in a plain ftyle, who can treat important ones 
** with dignity, and fpdak of things* which are of a middle 
^* naturCy in a temperate flrain. For one who, upon no 
'* occafion^ can, exprefs himfelf in a calm, orderly, dii^n^ 
f* manner^ when he begins to be on fire before his readert 
^' are prepared to kindle along with him, has the appear- 
*' ance of raving like a madman among perfons who ar^ 
^* in their fenfes> or of reeling like a drunkard in the mid£k 
f* of fober company*** 

f What perfbn, of the leaft tafte, can bear the following 
paflage, in a late hiftoiian ? He is giving an acconnt of 
the famous adt of parliament againft irregular Marriages 
in England : ^^ The bill," fays he, ** oncli^rwent 9 great 
'* number of alterations and amendments, which were not 
^* effe^ed without violent conteft." This is plain Lan-< 
guage, faited to the fubjeS ; and we naturally exped, that 
he fhould go on in the fame ftrain, to tell us, that, after 
thefe contefts, it was carried by a great majority of voices, 
and obtained the royal afTent. But how does Ke expre^ 
^imfelf in finiihing the period P <' At length, however, it 

•• wa« 

U t t A ? tt O ti. 3ii 

The fecond rule, which I give, refpeAs the l e c x. 
choice of objcdls, from whence Metaphors, 
and other Figures, are to be drawn. The field 
for Figurative Language is very wide. All 
nature, to fpeak in the ftyle of Figures, opens 
its ftores to us, and admits us to gather, from 
all fenfible obje^s, whatever can illullrate in^ 
telledual or moral ideas. Not only the gay 
and fplendid objeds of fenfe, but the grave, 
the terrifying, and even the gloomy and dif* 
mal, may, on different occaGons, be intro^ 
duced into Figures with ^propriety. But wc 
mud beware of ever ufing fuch allufions as 
raife in the ,mind difagreeable, mean, vulgar^ 
or dirty ideas* Even when Metaphors are 
chofen in order to vilify and degrade any ob^ 
je6t, an author (hould ftudy never to be nau- 
feous in his allufions. Cicero blames an orator 
of his time, for terming his enemy " Stercus 
*' Curiie ;'* " quamvis fit fimile," fays he, 
" tamen eft dcformis cogitatio fimilitodinis." 
But, infubjeds of dignity, it is an unpardon- 
able fault to introduce mean and vulgar Me- 
taphors. In the treatife on the Art of Sink- 
ing, in Dean Swift's works, there is a full and 
humourous colledlon of inftances of this kind,^ 

'* was fioaeed throtrgh both houfey, on the tide of a great 
*' msjomyi aod flscfed into the fa& harbour of royal appro^ 
** bation." Nothing can be more paerile thaa fach Lan« 
goage. Smollet's Hiilory of England, as ^osed in'Cricicaii 
Keview for 06l^ 1761, p^ 25U 



wherein authors, inftead of exalting, have con- 
trived to degrade, their fubjefts by the Figures 
they employed. Authors of greater note than 
thofe which are there quoted, have, at times| 
fallen into this error. Archbifhop Tillotfon, 
for inftance, is fometimes negligent in his 
choice of Metaphors i as, when fpeaking of 
the day of judgment, he defcribes the world, 
as " cracking about the finners ears." Shake- 
fpeare, whofe imagination was rich and bold, 
in a much greater degree than it was deli- 
cate, often fails here. The following, for 
example, is a grofs tranfgreffion ; in his 
Henry V. having mentioned a dunghill, he 
prefently raifes a Metaphor from the ftcam of 
it J and on a fubjeft too, that naturally led to 
much nobler ideas : 

' And thofe that leave their valiant bones in France, 
Dying like men, though buried in your dunghills. 
They (hall be fam'd j for there the fun ihall greet them. 
And draw their honours reeking up to heaven. 

Aa IV. Sc. 8. 

In the third place, as Metaphors fliould be 
4rawn from objefts of fome dignity, fo par- 
ticular care fhould be taken that the refcm- 
blance, which is the foundation of the Me- 
taphor, be clear and perfpicuous, not far- 
fetched, nor difHcult to difcover. The tranf- 
greflion of this rule makes, what are called, 
horfh or forced Metaphors, which are always 



difplcafifig, bccaufe they puzzle the reader, 
and, inftead of illuftrating the thought, ren- 
der it perplexed and intricate. With Meta- 
phors of this kind, Cowley abounds. He, 
and fome of the writers of his age, feem to 
have confidered it as the perfeftion of wit, to 
hit upon likenefles between objefts which no 
other perfon could have difcovcred j and, at 
the fame time, to purfue thofe Metaphors fo 
far, that it requires fome ingenuity to follow 
them out, and comprehend them. This makes 
a Metaphor rcfemble an senigma ; and is the 
very reverfe of Cicero's rule on this head : 
" Vcrecunda debet effe tranftatio ; ut dedudla 
" cffe in aliertum locum non irruiflc, atque ut 
" voluntario non vi venifle videatur*.'* How 
forced ^nd obfcure, for inftance, are the fol- 
lowing vcrfes. of Cowley, fpeaking of his 

' Wo to her ftubborn heart, if once mine come 
Into the felf*iame room, 
*Twill tear and blow up all within, 
Like a Granada, (hot into a magazine. 
Then fliall love keep the afhes and corn part^ 
Of both our broken hearts ; 

* '* Every Metaphor ihould be modeft^ fo that it may 
** carry the appearance of having been led, not of having 
** forced itfelf into the place of that word whofe room it 
** occupies; that it may feem to have come thither of its 
** own accord, and not by conftraint." De Oratore, 
lib. iii, c. C3« 

r Shall 

,§4 Jl B T A F, H O k, 

Shtdl out of bodi ohe new one make $ 
From her's th' alloy, from mine the metal take| 
For of her heart, he from the flames will find 
But little left behind ; 

Mine only will remain entire. 
No drofs was there to periifa rn the fire^ 

In this manner he addreflcs Sleep : 

In vain, thou drowfy God, I thee invokes 
For thou who doft from fumes arife, 
'Thou who man^s foul doft overfhade, 
With a thick cloud by vapours made$ 
Canft have no power to ^ut his eyesy 
Whofe flame 's fo pure, that it fends up no fmok% 
Yet how do tears but from fome vapours rtfel 
Tears that bewinter all my year^ 
The fate of Egypt I fuftain. 
And never feel the dew of rain. 
From clouds which in the head appear r 
But all my too much moifture owe 
To overflowings of the heart below *• 

Trite and common refemblances ifhould indeed 
be avoided in our Metaphors^ To be new, 
and not vulgari is a beauty. But when they 
are fetched from fome likenefs too remote, md 
lying too far out of the road of ordinary 
thought, then, befidcs their obfcurity, they 
have alfb the difadvantage of appearing la« 
boured, and, as the French call it, *^ re- 

•* cherch6 :'" whereas Metaphor^ like every 


* See an excellent cnticifm on this fort of metaphyfical 
Ipoetry^ in Dr. Johnfon's Life of Cowley^ 

t * Other 

M E T A P H O Ri 3^5 

Other ornament, lofes its whole grace,- when it l e c t. 
does not feem natural and eafy. 

It is but a bad and Ungraceful Toftening, 
which writers fomctimes ufe for a harfti Me- 
taphor, when they palliate it with the expref-' 
fion, US it tvere. This is but an awkward pa- 
renthefis; and Metaphors, which need this 
apology of an as it wercy would, generally, 
have been better omitted. Metaphors, too, 
borrowed from any of the fcicnces, efpecially 
fuch of them as belong to particular pro- 
feflions, are almoft always faulty by their 

In the fourth placej it mufl: be carefully 
attended to, in the conduft of Metaphors^ 
never to jumble metaphorical and plain lan- 
guage together; never to conftru6k a period 
fo, that paft of it muft be underftood mcta- 
phoricallys part literally: which always pro* 
duces a moft difagrceable confufion. Inftances, 
which are but too frequent, even in good au- 
thors, will make this rule, and the reafon of 
it, be clearly underftpod. In Mr, Pope's 
tranftation o^ the Odyffey, l^enelope, bewail- 
ing the abrupt departure of her fon Telencia- 
chus, is made to fpeak thus : 

Long to my joys my dcareft Lord is loft. 
His country's buckler, and the Grecian boafl ; 

Vol. L C c Now 


Now from my fond embrace bj tempeffs tom^ 
Our other column of the ftatc is borne. 
Nor took a kind adieu, nor fought confent*. 

IV. 962- 

Here, in one line, her fon is figured as a Co- 
lumn i and in the next, he returns to be a 
* Perfon, to whooi it belongs to take adieu, and 
to afk confent. This is inconfiftent* The 
Poet Ihould either have kept hinnfelf to the 
idea of a Man, in the literal fenfe 1 or, if he 
figured him by a Column, he Ihould hare 
afcribed nothing to him but what belonged 
to it. .He was not at liberty to afcribS to that 
Column the adlions and properties of a Man. 
Such unnatural mixtures render the image in- 
diftin£t; leaving it to waver, in our concep- 
tion, between the figurative and the literal 
fenfe. Horace's rule, which he applies to 
Characters, ftiould be obferved by all writers 
who deal in Figures : 

Servetur ad Imum^ 

Qualii ab iocepto proceflerit, et fibi a>aftet* 

^I^imJ— ^— ^— < 11 I I I I M^I^M^—— — »— ^ 

* In the origioaly there is no allafiaffV) ft Column, and 
the Metaphor is regularly (bpported : 

IlaurroDK a^vfvn fttKacrf/ufof lit Aataoici 

4 Mr. 


Mr Pope, dfewhcrc, addrcfllng himfelf to the l e c t* 
King, fays. 

To thee the World its prefent homage pays. 
The harveft early, but mature the praife. 

This, though not fo grofs, is a fault, however, 
of the fame kind. It is plain, that, had not 
the rhyme mifled him to the choice of an im- 
proper pbrafe, he would have faid. 

The harveft early, but mature the crop : 

And fo would have continued the Figure which 
he had begun. Whereas, by dropping it un- 
finifhed, and by employing the literal word, 
fraife^ when we were cxpeftihg fomething 
that related to the Harveft, the Figure is 
broken, and the two members of the fen- 
tence have no proper correfpondencc with each 

The Harveft early, bat mature the Praifi^ 

The Works of Offian abound with beau** 
tiful and correct Metaphors / fuch as that on 
a Hero: ^' In peace, thou art the Gate of 
" Spring; in war, the Mountain Storm/' Or 
this, on a^ Woman : '* She was covered with 
« the Light of Beauty ; but her heart was 
!^ the Houfe of Pride/' They afford, how- 
ever, one inftance of the fault we are now 
cenfuring: *' Trothal went forth with thr 
'^ Stream of his people, but they tdtl a Rock : 

C c a *' for 


L F c T. " (qj. Fingal flood unmoved ; broken they 
*' rolled back from his fide. Nor did they 
" roll in fafcty J the fpear of the King pur- 
" fued their flight." At the beginning, the 
Metaphor is very beautiful. The Stream, 
the unmoved Rock, the Waves rolling back 
bfokeh, are expreflions employed in the pro- 
per and confiftent language of Figure ; but, 
in the end, when we are told, " they did not. 
*' roll in fafety, becaufe the fpear of the King 
*' purfued their flight," the literal meaning is 
improperly mixed with the Metaphor : they 
are, ait one and the fame time, prcfentcd to 
us as 'Waves that roll, and men that may be 
pur/ued and wounded with a /peat. If it be 
faulty to jumble together, in this manner, 
metaphorical and plain language, it is ftill 
more fo. 

In the fifth place, to make two diff^ercnt 
Metaphors meet on one objedt. This is what 
is called Mixed Metaphor, and is indeed one 
of the grofleft abufes of this Figure i firch a$ 
Shakefpeare's exprefl^ionP, " ^^ to take arms 
^' againft a fea of troubles." This makes a 
moft unnatural medley, arfd" confounds the 
imagination entirely. Quinftilian has fuffi- 
ciently guarded US' againft it. *' Id imprimis 
*' eft cuftodiendum, ut quo genere coepcri« 
** tranflationis, hoc finias. ^ Multi autcm 
*^ cum initiunri a tcmpeftatc fumferunt, in* 

** ccndia 



'^ cendig aut ruina finiunt; quae eft incon- l e^ct, 
" fequentia rcrum fcediffinia */' Obferve, . 
for inftancc, what an inconfiftent groupe of 
objcds is brought together by Shakefpeare, 
in the following paflage of the Tenlpeftj 
fpeaking of perfons recovering their judg- 
ment after the enchantment, which held them, 
was diflblved : 

— — The charm diflblircs apace^^ 

And ^s the morning fteals upon the night 
* Melting the darkneft, fo their riling fenfes 
Begin to chafe the ignorant fumes that mantle 
Their clearer reafon. — 

So mafty ill-forted things are here joined, that 
the mind can fee nothing clearly; the mornr 
ing Ji^aling upon the darknefs, and at the 
fame time melting it ; the fenfes of men chafing 
fumesy ignorant fumeSy and fumes that mhntle^ 
So again in Romeo and Juliet : 

— — — as glorious. 

As is. a winged meflenger from heaven. 
Unto the white upturned wondering eye? 
Of mortals, that fall back t9 gaze on him. 
When he beilrides the lazy pacing clouds. 
And fails upon the bofom qf the air. 

* ** We mujft be particalarly attentive to end with the 
f' fanje kind of Metaphor with which we have began. 
*' Some, when they begin the figure with a Tempeft» coa^ 
'< elude it with a Conflagration ; which forms a QLamef\il 
*• inconfiftcncy." 

C c 3 • Hcre^ 


Here, the Angel is reprefented, as^ at one 
momentj bejiriding the clouds^ and Jailing 
upan the air ; and upon the hqfom of the air 
too; which forms fuch a coiifuied pl6]kure» 
that it 1% impoffible for any imagination to 
comprehend ^t. 

More corrc6fc yrritjcrs than Shakefpearc 
fometimes fall into this error of mixing Meta- 
phors. It is furprlfing how the following in- 
accuracy Ihould have clcaped Mr* Addifon in 
his Letter from Italy ; 

I bridle in my ftruggling mufe with pain. 
That longs to launch into a bolder ftrain t« 

The mufe, figured as a horfc, may be hridtedi 
jbut when we fpeak of launfhing^ we make it a 
Ihip } and, by no force of imagination, can 
it be fuppofed both a horfe and a (hip at one 
momentj bridled, to hinder it from launching. 
The farpe Amhor, in one pf his Numbers in 
the Spedlapor, fays, *f There is not a finglc 
" vieiy of hwman nature, which is not fuffi- 
*^ cient to extinguish the feeds of pride." Ob- 
ferve the incohpcnce of the things here Joined 
together, making ^' a view exlinguifb, and 
f^ extinguifli feeds. V 

* la my obiefvatiott on this paflage,N I find, that I ha4 
coincided wiih Dr. Johnfon, who paiics a iauias cen/urc 
ppon it, in his Life of Addifon. 




Horace alfo, is iiicorr^dt^ in the followipg l £ c t. 
paflage : 

Uiitcnim fulgore fuo 4jui prcgravat artcs 
Infra ie {>ofitas. — ^ 

Urit qui fregravat. — He dazzles who bear^ 
down with his weight;^ makes plainly an in- 
confiftent mixture of metaphorical ide^s. 
Neither can tljiis other paflage be altogether 

Ah! qtAantalaborasJn Qiarybdij 
Digoe puer, mdiore flamma ! 

Where a whirlpool of water, Charybdis, \% 
faid to be a flame, not good enough for this 
young man j meaning, that he was unfor- 
tunate Iq the objeA of his paflion. Flame is, 
indeed, become almofl: a literal ?^ord for the 
paflTion of love j but as it ftill retains, in fome 
degree, its figurative power, it fliould never 
have been ufcd as fynonymous with water, and 
niixed with it in the fame Metaphor. Wheiy 
Mr. Pope (Eloifa to Abelard) fays, 

All th^ is fuU, pofleffing and pp{Ie((^ 
No craving void left aking in the breaft j 

A w/Wnvay, metaphorically, be faid to craves 
|i)ut can a yoid be faid to aki? 

A ooon rule h^s been given for examining 
the propriety of Metaphors, when we doubt 
whether or not they be of the mixed kind : 

C c 4 namely^ 


t E c T. namely, that we fliould try to form a pifture 
upon them, and confider how the parts would 
agree, apd what fort of figure the whole would 
prcfcnt, when delineated with a pencil. By 
this means, we fliould become fenfible, whe- 


ther inconfiftent circumftanccs were mixed^ 
and a monftrous image thereby produced, as 
in all thofe faulty inftances I have now been 
giving ; or whether the objeft was^ all along, 
, prefented in one natural and confident point 
of view. 

As Metaphors opght never to be mixed„ fo, 
in the fixth place, we fliould avoid crowding 
them together on the fame objeft. Suppofing 
each of the Metaphors to be preferved difl:inft, 
yet, if they be heaped on one another, they 
produce a confufion fomewhat of the fame 
kind with the mixed Metapho^f We may 
judge of this by the following paflagc frorn 
Horace : 

Motum ex Metcllo cpnfule civicum, 

Bellique caufas, et vitia, et modos, 
Ludumque fortunae, gravefquf 
Principum axnicitias, & arma 

Nondum expiatis un£ta cruoribus, 

Periculofx plenum opus aleas, 

Traftas, ct incedis per igne^ 
Suppofito$ cineri dolofo *. Lib. IL i. 


* Of warm commotions^ wrathful jar$. 
The growipg feeds of civil wars ;' ' ' 




This'paflage, though very poetical, is, how^ i* e c t, 
ever, harfli and obfcure ; owing to no other 
caufe but this., that three diftin<5t Metaphors 
are crowded together, to defcribethe difiiculty 
of Polli.o's writing a hiftory of the civil wars* 
Firft, " Traftas arrna unfta cruoribus nondum 
*^ cxpiatis ;" ne3^t, " Opus plenum periculofac 
f^ aleae;" and then, ^* Incedis per ignes, fup- 
^' pofitos dojofo cinerj." The mind ha$ dif- 
ficulty in pafling readily through fo many dif- 
ferent views given it, in quick . fuccepion, of 
the famp objeft* 


The only other rule concerning Metaphors^ 
which I fhall add, in the feventh place, is, 
that they be not too far.purfucd. If the re- 
femblance, on which the Figure is founded, 
be long dwelt upon, and carried into all its 
minute circumftances, we make an AUegory 
inftcad of a Metaphor j we tire the reader, 
who foon becortnes weary of this play of fancy; 
and wc render our difcourfe obfcure. This 

Of double fortane's crael games. 
The fpecious meansy the private aim s> 

And fatal friepdihips of the guilty great, 

AJas ! how fatal to the Roman ftate ! 
Of mighty legions late fubdu-d. 
And arms with Latian blood embru'd ; 
Yet unatoned (a labour vaft ! 
Doubtful the die, and dire the caft !) 

You treat adventurous, and incautious tread ' 

On fires wiA faithlefs embers overfprcad, F(i a nci«. 



I. E c T. is called, ftraining a Metaphor* Cowley deals 
in this to cxcefs ; and to this error is owingi 
in a great meafurej that intricacy and harih* 
nefs, in his figurative Language, which I h^^ 
fore remarked. Lord Shaftlbury is ibme* 
times guilty of purfuing his Metaphors toQ 
far. Fond, to a high degree, of eyery deco- 
ration of ftyle^ whea once he had hit upon ^ 
jFigure that pleafed him, he was extremely loth 
to part with it. Thus, in his Advice to aq 
Author, having taken up fQlilpquy, or medi- 
tation, under the NIetaphor of a proper me* 
thod of evacuation for an author, he purfue^ 
this Metaphor through fevcral pages, under 
all the forms ^' of difcharging crudities^ 
throwing off froth and fcum^ bodiljT opera* 
tion, taking phyfic, curing indigeftion, 
" giving vent to cholcr, bile, flatulencies^ 
" and tumours i'^ tjH> at lafl, the ideft be^ 
comes naufeous. Dr. Young al£b often tre(^ 
pafTes in the fame way. The merit, however* 
of this writer, in figurative Language, is 
great, and deferyes to be remarked* N9 
writer, antient or modern, had ^ ftronger 
imagination phap Dr. Toung, or one more 
fertile in Figures of evciy kind. His Meta- 
phors are often new, ^jj^ often natural and 
beautiful. But his imagination waa ftrong 
and rich, rather than delicate and correft, 
-^ Hence, in his Night Thoughts, there pre- 
vails an obfcurity, and a hardnefs in his flyle. 



M B T A P H O a. 395 

The Metaphors arc frequently too bpld, and l e c x. 
frequently too far purfued ; the reader is 
dazzled rather t^an enlightened; and kept 
conftantly on the ftretch to keep pace with the 
author. We may obferve, for inftance, how 
the follo:wing Metaphor is fpun out: 

Thy thoughts are vagaboncts ; all outward bound, 
Midft fands and rocks, and ftorms^ to cruife for pleafure. 
If gain'd, dear bought; and better mifsM than gain'd* 
Fancy and fenfe, frwi an infected fliore. 
Thy cargo brings ; and peftjlence the prizes. 
Then (uch the thirft, infatiabte thirft« 
By fond indulgence but i^iflam'd the more, 
fancy ftill cruifes^ when poor fenfe is tired* 

Speaking of old jTge, he fays, it fhoul4 

Walk thoughtful on the filent folemn ihore 
Of that vaft ocean, it muft fail fo foon ; 
And put good works on board ; and wait the win^ 
^ That ihortly blows us into worlds unknown* 

The two firfl: lines are juncommonly beauti- 
ful; *^ walk thoughtful on the Glent, &c/' 
but when he continues the Metaphor, *^ to 
putting good works on board, and waiting 
the wind," it plainly becomes ftrained, and 
finks in dignity. Of all the Englifh authors, 
I know none fi> b#ppy ij^ his Metaphors as 
Mr. Addifoo* His imagination was neither 
fo rich nor fo fkrong as Dr. Young's j but far 
more chafte and delicate* Perfpicuity, na- 
tural grace, and eafe, always diftinguilh his 



396 A L L E C5 O R y. 

L t c T. Figures. They are neither harfh nor (trained^ 
they never .appear to have been ftudied or 
fought afteKi but feem to rife of their own 
accord from the fubjcft, and conftantly em- 

bellifh it. 

I HAVE now treated fully of the Metaphor, 
and the rules that fhould govern it, a part of 
ftyle fq important, that it required particular 
jUuftration. I have only to add a few words 
conceraing Allegory. 

An Allegory may be regarded ais a con- 
tinued Metaphor; as it is the reprefehtation 
of fome one thing by another that refembles 
. it, and that is made to (land for it. Thus, in 
Prior's Henry and Emma, Emma in the fol- 
lowing allegorical manner defcr^bes her <jqn^ 
ftancy to Henry ; 

Did I but purpofe to embark with thee 
On the fmooth furface of a fummer's fea. 
While gentle zephyrs play with profperou^ gales, 
And fortune's favour fills thcfwelHng feils ;' 
But would forfake the (hip, and make the ihore. 
When the winds whiftlci". and the tempefts roar i 

We may take alfo from the Scriptures a 
very fine example of an Allegory, in the 8oth 
Pfalm; where the people of Ifrael are fepre* 
fented under the image of a vine, and the 
J^igure is fupported throughout with great coc- 




refthefs and beauty : " THoii haft brought A L E c t. 

" vine out of Egypt, thou haft caft out the 

" heathen, and planted it. Thou prcparedft 

** room before itj and didft caufe it to take 

** deep root, and it filled the land^ The hills 

*^ were covered with the Ihadow of it j and the 

boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.. 

She fent out" her boughs into the fea, and 

" her branches into ^he river. Why haft thou 

*^ broken down her hedges, fo that all they 

" which pafs by the way do pluck her ? The 

*^ boar out of the wood doth wafte it j and the 

*' wild beaft of the field doth devour it. Re- 

** turn, we befeech thee, O God of Hofts, 

'• look down from Heaven, and behold, and 

«* vifit this vine V Here there. is no circum- 

ftance (except perhaps one phrafe at- the be* 

ginning, ^' thou haft caft out the heathen,'*) 

that does not ftridtly agree to a vine, whilft 

at the fame time, the whole quadrates happily 

with the Jcwifti ftate reprefented by this Figure. 

This is the firft and principal requifite in the 

condu<9; of an Allegory, that the figurative. 

and the literal meaning be not mixed incon^ 

fiftently together. For inftance, inftead of dc* 

fcribing the vine, as wafted by the boar from 

the wood, and devoured by the wild beaft of 

the field, had the Pfalmift faid, it was afflifted 

by heathens^ or overcome, by enemies (\¥hicfe 

is the r^al meaning), this would have ruined 

the Allegory, ^nd produced the fame con- 


39« A L L E a O R y. 

L E c T. fufion, of which I gave examples in Meta« 
phors, when the figurative and literal feafe are 
mixed and jumbled together. Indeed, the 
fame rules that were given for Metaphors, 
may alfo be applied to Allegories, on account 
of the affinity they bear to each other. The 
only material difierence between them, beiides 
the one being Ihort, and the other being pro- 
longed, is, that a Metaphor always explains 
itfclf by the words that arc conneAed with it 
in their proper and natural meaning ; as when 
I fay, '^ Achilles was a Lion 5*' an *« able 
•* Minifter is the Pillar of the State;'' my 
Lion and mj^4Pillar are fufficiently interpreted 
by the nwntion of Achilles and the Minifter, 
which' I join to them j but an Allegory is, or 
may be, allowed to ftand more difconne&ed 
with the literal noeaning; the interpretation 
not fo direftly pointed out, but left to our 
own reflection. 

Allegories were a favourite method of 
delivering infttudions in antient times ; for 
what we call Fables cmt Parables are no other 
than Allegories ; where, by words and a^ftions 
attributed to beafts or inanimate objeds, the 
difpofitions of men are figured j and what we 
call the moral, is the unfigured fenfe^or mean* 
mg of the Allegory. An ^Enigma or Riddle 
is alfo a fpecics of Allegory j one thing. repre* 
fented -or imaged by another ^ but ptirpofdy 



wrapt up under fo manjr circumftanccs, as to ^ ^^ '^* 
be rendered obfcurc. Where a riddle is not 
intended J it is always a fault in Allegory to 
be too dark. The meaning (hould be eafily 
fcen through the Figure en>ploycd to fhadow it* 
However, the proper mixture of light and 
Ihade in fuch compofitions, the exadt adjuft- 
ment of all the figyrative circumftances with 
the literal fenfe, fo as neither to lay the mean- 
ing too bare and open> nor to cover and wrap 
it up too muchi has ever been found an affair 
of great nicety j and there are few fpecies of 
compofition in which it is more difficult to 
write fo i^s to pleafe and comtna^ attention^ 
than in Allegories* In fome of the irifions of 
the Spe£tator> we have examples of AJUegories 
very hi^pily executed^ 





t E c T. rr^ HE next Figure concerning which I am 
Jt to -treat, is (railed HypcrboJe, or Exag- 
geration. It confifb in magnifying an dbjedl: 
beyond its natural bounds. It nr^ay be con« 
fidered fometimes as a Trope, and fometimes 
as a Figure of thought : and here indeed the 
diftinftion between thefe two clafles begins 
not to be clear, nor is it of any importance 
that we Ihould have recourfe to metaphyfical 
fubtllties, in order to keep theoi diftind. 
Whether we call it Trope or FigUrCj it is plain 
that it is a mode of fpeech which hath fome 
foundation in nature. For in all languages, 
even in common converfation, hyperbolical 
cxpreflions very frequently occur -, as fwift as 
the wind ^ as white a$ the fnow, and the like; 
and our common forms of compliment arc 
almofl all of them extravagant Hyberboles, 
8 If 

fa V P fe R 8 O L B. ^ct 

If any thing be remarkably good or great in l e c t. 
its kindi we are inftantly ready to add to it 
fome cxaggeratihg epithet i and to make it 
the . greateft or beft we ever law. The ima* 
gination has always a tendency to gratify 
itfelf, by magnifying its prefent object, and 
carrying it to excefs. More or lefs of this hy- 
perbolical turn will prevail in language, ac- 
cording to the livelinefs of imagination among 
the people who fpcak it. Hence young peo- 
ple deal always much in Hyperbojes. Hence 
the lariguagc of the Orientals was far more 
hyperbolical than that of the Europeans, who 
are of more phlegmatic, or, if you pleafe, 
of more correct imagination. Hence, among 
all writers in early times, and in the rude 
periods of fociety, we may expcdl this Figure 
to abound. Greater experience, and more 
cultivated fociety, abate the warmth of ima- 
gination^ and chaften the manner of expreflibn. 

The exaggerated expreflions to which our 
ears are aocuflroirtcd in converfationj fcarccly 
ftrikc.Ui ai5 Hyperboles^ In an inftant we 
make the proper abatement^ and underftand 
them ^ccofdingto their juft value. But when 
there is fomething (triking and unufual in the 
forni;of a hyperbolical expreffioh, it then rifes 
into^ Figu^ of Speech which draws our atten- 
liopt and ^fre it is.nece^ary to obferve, that 
unlefs the reader's imagination be in fuch a 

Vol, I. ' D d ftatc 



L E c T. ftate as difpofcs it to rife and fwcU along with 
the hyperbolical expreflion^ he is always hurt 
and offended by it. For a fort of difagree- 
able force is put upon him ; he is required to 
drain and exert his fancy, when he feels no 
inclination to make any fuch effort. Hence 
the Hyperbole is a Figure of difficult manage* 
ment; and ought neither to be frequently 
ufed, nor long dwelt upon. On fome occa«> 
fions, it is undoubtedly proper i beings as wa^ 
before obferved, the natural iikyle of a fpright* 
ly and heated imagination; but whea Hyper^ 
boles are unfeafonable^ or too frequcBtj they 
render a compofitton frigid and unaffe£ting. 
They are the refource of an author of feeble 
imagination^ ofone, defcribing objcA^ which 
either want native dignity in themfelyes; or- 
whofe dignity he cannot fhow by delcribing 
them fimply, and in their juft proportions^ 
and is therefore obliged to reft u|)Ob ti»nid 
and exaggerated expreflionSr 

Hyperboles are of two kmdss eithtr Aich 
as are employed in defcriptiony orcfuch ^ are 
fuggeftcd by the warmtfc of paffioo. The 
bed by far, are thofe which are the effect of 
paffion : for if the imagination has -a tendency 
to magnify its objefts beyond thefef natural 
proportion, pafSon poflefie'^ this ^Adeney in 
a vaftly ftronger degneej and therefore not 
only cxcufes the moft daring Figures, but very 

5 ' ^ftctt 


often renders them natural Jind juft* All ttcr, 
paflions, without exception^ love, terror^ 
amazement, indignation, anger, and even 
grief, throw the mind into confufion, aggra* 
vate their objefts, and of courfe prompt a 
hyperbolical ftyle. Hence the following fcn- 
timents of Satan in Milton> as ilrongly as 
they are defcribtd, contain nothing but what 
IS natural and proper; exhibiting tht pidture 
of a mind agitated with rage and defpair : 

Me, miferable ! which way Ihall I flie 
Infinite wrath, and inftnite deftKiir f 
Which way I flie is Hell, myfelf am Hell | 
And in the loweft depth, a lower deep 
Still threatening to devour me> opens wide. 
To which the Hell I fuffer feems a Heaven* 

B. iv. h J 2* 

In fimplc defcription, though Hyperboles 
are not excluded, yet they muft be ufcd with 
more caution, and require more preparation, in 
order to make the mind relifli them. Either 
the objeft defcribed muft be of that kind, 
which of itfclf feizes the fancy ftrongly, and 
difpofes it to riin beyond bounds 5 fomething 
vaft, furprifing, arid new; or the writer's art 
muft be exerted in heating the fancy gradu- 
ally, and preparing it. to think highly of the 
objedi whic.h he intends to exaggerate. When 
a Poet Is dcfcribin^ an earthquake or a ftorm, 
or when he has brought us into the midft of 
a battle, we can bear ftrong Hyberboles with- 

D d a ©ut 

^^ H Y P £ R B O t £. 

L E c T. out difplcafurc. But when he is defcribing 
only a woman in grief, it is impolfibk not 
CO be difguftedf with fuch wild escaggeration 
as the following, in one of our dramatic 
Poets r 

—I found her on the floor 
In all the ftorm of grief, yet beautiful; 
Pouring forth tears at fuch a lavifh rate. 
That ^uterc the world on fire, they might have drown*il 
The wrath of Heaven^ and q^uench'd the mighty ruin* 

Thjs is mere bortibaft. The perfon hcrfelf 
who was under the diftrafting agitations of 
grief, might be permitted to hyperbolize 
ftrongly ; but the fpcftator defcribing her, 
cannot be allowed an equal liberty : for this 
plain reafon, that th« one is fuppofed to utter 
the fcntiments of paflion, the other fpeaks only 
the language of defcription, which is always, 
according to the diftates of nature, on a lower 
toner a diftinftionr, which, however obvious, 
has not been attended to by many writers^ 

How far a Hyperbole, fuppofing it properly 
introduced, may be fafely carried without 
o'verftretchrng it -, what is the* proper meafure 
and boundary of this Figure, cannot, as far as 
rknow, be afcertained by any precifc rule. 
Good fenfe and juft tafte muft determine the 
point, beyond which, if we p'afs, we Become 



extravagant. Lucan may be pointed out as l e c t. 
an author apt to be exceffive in his Hyper- 
boles. Amoag the compliments paid by the 
Romao Poets to their Emperors, it had be- 
come fafliionable to afk them, what part of 
the teavens they would chufe for their habita- 
tion, ^^^^*" ^^^y fhould have become Gods? 
Virgil had already carried ubis fufficiently far 
ia his addrefs to Auguftus; 

■ -Tlbi brachia contrahit ingehs 
JScorpius,, & Cc»H jufta plus parte relinquit** 

Geor. L 

But this did not fufEce Lucan* Refolved to 
outdo all his predcceflbrs, in a like addrefs 
to Neroj be very gravely befeeches him not 
to chufe his place near either of the poles, 
but to be fure to occupy juft the middle of 
the heavens, left, by going either to one fide 
or other, his weight ihould overfet ths uni- 
verfe ; 

Scd nieque in Arftoo fedem tibi legcris orbe 
Nee pojus adverfi calidus qua mcrgitur auftri j 
^theris ixnoienfi partem fi prefferis unam 
Sentiet axis onus. Librati pondcra Ccdi 

Ojbe tene medio f^ Pjhar^. t. 53. 


^ — 

-•* ThcL Scorpion ready to receive thy laws, 
« Yields half his region, and contrafts his paws.. 
f But, oh! whatever be thy Godhead great, 
fix not in rcgioas too remote thy fcSt ; 

D d s N^ 



I. E c T. Such thoughts as thcfe, are what the French 
call outreSy and always proceed fram a falfc 
fire of genius. The Spanilh and African 
writers, as Tcrtullian, Cyprian, Auguftin, arc 
remarked for being fond of them. As in that 
epitaph on Charles V, by a Spaniih writer : 

Pro tumulo ponas orbem, pro teg mine coelum, 
Sidera pro facibus, pro lacryrais maria. 

Sometimes they dazzle and impofe by their 
boldnefs; but wherever reafon and good fenfe 
arc fo much vioUted, there can be no true 
beauty. Epigrammatic writers are frequently 
guilty in this refpeft i refting the whole merit 
of their epigrams on fome extravagant hyper- 
bolical tuj;n; fuch as the following of Dr, 
Pitcairp's, upoa HpUand's being gained from 
the ocean : . , 

Tetlurem fccere Dii ; fua tittora Belgas; 

Imincnfairque moUsi opu^utrumqus fuit; 
Dii vacuo fparfas glomerarunt aethere terras^ 

Nil ibi quod operi pofEt obefle fuit. 
At Belgis, niaria & cobK na€uraque rerum 

Obftitst; obftantes hi doinulre <Deo«. 


Nor deign thou near the frozen Bear to fhine. 

Nor where the fultry fouthern ftars decline, 

Prefs not too much on apy part the fphere. 

Hard were the talk thy >yejght divineto bear |^ 

Soon would the axis feel the unufual load, 

And, groaning, bend beneath th' incumbent God 5 

O'er the mid orb more equal ihalt thou rife. 

And with a juftcr balance fix 4hc fties. Howe. 


personification; 407 

So much for the Hyperbole. We proceed • t « c t. 
now to thofe Figures which lie altogether in the 
thought; where the words are taken in their 
common and literal fenfe. 

Among thefe, the firft place is unqueftion- 
ably due to Perfonification, or that Figure by 
which we attribute life and adion to inanimate 
objefh. The technical term for this is Profo* 
popoia; but as Peribnification is of the fame 
imports and more allied to our own language^ 
it will be. better to ufe this word* 

It is a Figure, the ufe of which is very 
extenfive, and its foundation laid deep in hu- 
man nature* At firft view, and when con* 
iidered ab(lra£tly, it would appear to be a 
Figure of the utmoft boldnef^, and to border 
on the extravagant and ridiculous. For what 
can feem more remote from the track of rea- 
fanable thought, than to fpeak of ftones and 
trees, and fields and rivers, as if they were 
lining creatures, and to attribute to them 
thought and ienfation, affedlions sind a6lions f 
One might imagine this to be no more than 
childifh conceit, which no perfbn of tafle could 
relifk. In fad, however, the cafe is very dif- 
ferent. No fuch ridiculous effed is produced 
by Perfonification, when properly employed ; 
on the contrary, it is found to be natural and 
agreeable 1 nor is any very uncommon degree 

D d 4 of 



LB c T. of paffion required, in order to make us rcli(h 
it. . All poetry, even in its moft gentle and 
humble forms, abounds with it. From.profe, 
it is far from being excluded ; nay, in common 
converfation, very frequent approaches are 
made to it. When we fay, the ground thirjis 
for rain, or the tzvthJmiUs with plenty ; when 
we fpcak of ambition's being r0lejsy or a dif- 
eafe being deceitful^ fuch expreilions fhow the 
facility with which the mind can accommodate 
the properties of living creatures to things that 
are inanimate, or to abftra£t conceptions of its 
own forming. 

Indeed, it is very remarkable, tliat there is 
H .wonderful pronenefs in human nature to ani- 
mate all objeds. Whether this arifes from a 
fort of aflimilating principle, from a pro-^ 
penfion to fpread a refembjance of ourfelvcs 
over all other things, or from whatever other 
caufc it arifes, fo it is, that almoft every emo- 
tion, which in the le^ft agitates the mind, 
b^ftows upon its objeft a. morpentary idea of 
life. Let a man, by an unwary ftep, fprain 
his ankle, or |iurt his foot upon a ftone, and, 
in the riifljed difcompofed moment, he will, 
fometimes, feel himfelf difpofed to break the 
ftone in pieces, or tq utter paflionate expref-n 
fions againft it, as if it I^ad done him an injury. 
If one has been long accqftomed to a certain 
fet of objedts^ which h^v? made ^ ftrong im-? 



preffion oh his imagination ; as to a houfei ^J^^'*''' 
where he has palTed many agreeable years ; or 
to fields, and trees, and mountains, among- 
which he has often walked with the greatest 
delight; when he is obliged to part with them, 
efpecially if he has no profpeft of ever feeing' 
them again, he can fcarce avoid having fome- 
what of the fame feeling as when he is leaving 
old friends. They fecm endowed with Jifc, 
They become objeAs of his afFcftion; and, in 
the moment of his parting. It fcarce feems ab* 
furd tohim^ to give.vent to his feeling in words, 
s^nd (oijtake a formal adieu. 

So ftrong is that impreffion of lifb which is 
made upon us, by the more magnificent and 
driking objecb of nature efpecially, that I- 
doubt not, in thb leafVj of this having 'been- 
one caufe of the multiplication of divinities in 
the Heathen world. The belief of Dryads 

r - 

and Naiads, of the Genius of the Wood, and 
the God of the River, among men of lively 
imaginations, in the early ages of the world, 
e^fily arofe from this turn of mind. When 
their favourite rural obje&s had often been 
anittTated in their fancy, it was an eafy tranfi- 
tion to attribute to them fomc real divinirv, 
feme unfccn power or gcfnius which inhabited 
them, or in fome peculiar manner belonged to 
theni. Imagination was highly gratified, by 
thus gaining fomewhat to reft upon with more 

(lability 5 



1*1 CT.. flabilUyi and when belief coincided fo muclr 
with imagination, very flight caufcs would be efUbliih it. 

From this deduction, may be eafiJf feen 
liow it comes to pafs^ that Perfonification 
makes fo great a figure in all compofitions, 
where invagination or pailion have any con* 
ccrn. Oil innumerable occafions/ it is' the 
very language of imagination and paiBon> and, 
therefore, deferves to be attended to, and ex- 
antined with pecoHaMr' care. There are three 
different degrees of this Figures ^ich k is 
neceffary to remark and diftinguilh, in order 
to deternune the propricty^ of its ufe. The 
iirfl: is, when fomt of the properties or quali^ 
ties of living creatures are afcribed to inani^* 
mateob^e<^Si the ffcohd, when thofe inani- 
mate obje^are introduqed as.adting like fuch 
as have life; and the thirds when they are re- 
prefented, either as fpeaking to us, or, as liften^ 
ing_ to what w? fay to them. ; 1 

T.H5 firfta and loweft degree of this Figure, 
confifts it\ afcribingito inanimaite . obje&s fome 
of the qualities of Hving creatures. Where this 
is done, as is moft commonly the cafe, in a 
word, or two, a^d by way of an epithet added 
to the object, as, <^ a raging Aorm, a deceit* 
^« ful difeafe, a cruel difefter,** &c. it raifes 
the ilyle fo little, that, the humbleft difcourfe 




will admit it without any force. Thrs^ in- tic t, 


deed, is fuch an obfcure degree of Perfooifi- 
cation, that one niay doubt whether it defefve^ 
the nanie, and might not be claiSed with Gm* 
pie Metaphors, whigh efcape in a manner un^ 
noticed. Happily employed, however, i«* 
iometimqs adds beauty and fprightlinefs to an 
exprefllon j as in th'^ line of Virgil : 

Aut conjurato defcendens Dacus ab Idro. 

Geor, II, 474, 

• ••..■ ' ,, 

Where the perfonal epithet, cq/yurato, ap-» 
plied to the river J^rp^ is infinitely more po^ 
etical than if it had been applied to the perfon^ 
thys ; , 

Aut conjuratus defcendens Dacus ab Iftro. 

A, very little tafte will make any one. feel the 
diiFerence between thefe two lines. 

Tm next degree of this Figure is, when wo 
iiKroducQ inafiimaite objeifls. a&ing Iike> tkofe 
th*t baye lifcw Here^ we rife a ftep higher, 
^d the Perfonification becqaies fonfible. Ao« 
cording to the nature of the a6tioA, which wo 
attribute to thoie h^^imate objefts, and the 
particularity withwhiqh we defcribe it, fuch ia 
the ftrength of the Figure, When purfued to 
^ny length, it belongs Qnly to ftudied ha-* 
Mngues, to highly figured and eloquent dif- 
^Qurfe : when (lightly touched, it may be ad- 



mittcd into fubjefts of left elevation. Cicero, 
for inftance, fpcaking of the cafes where kill- 
ing another is lawful in felf-defence^ ufes 
the following words : " Aliquando nobis 
^ gladiiis ad occidcndum hominem ab ipfis 
" porrigttur legibus." (Orat. pro Milone.) 
The expreffion is happy. The laws arc pcr- 
fonified, as reaching forth their hand to give us 
a fword for putting one to death. Such fliort 
Perfonifications as thefc may be admitted, 
even into moral treatifes, or works of cool rea- 
fopingj and, provided they'be ]feafy aftcJ not 
ftrained, and that we be not cloyed with tod 
frequent returns of them, theyJiave a good 
efFeft on ftyle, and render it both ftrong and 

. The genius of our Language giv^s us an 
advantage in the ufe of this Figure. As, with 
us, no fubftantive nouns have gender, or are 
mafculine and .feminine, except the proper 
n)mies of male and feirnale ereaturecs i^is^ gir^ 
ing a gender to afty kanimate obj«^, or ab* 
ftraft idea, that is, in place of the pronoun iV, 
ufing the perfonal pronouns, be" or Jh^i we pre- 
fently raife the ftyle, anfl begin Perfonifica- 
tion. In folemn difcourfe, this may often be 
done to good purpofe, when fpeaking of re- 
ligion, or virtue, or our country, <>r any luch 
objc6l of dignity. I fhall give a Remarkably 
fine example, from a fermon of Bifliop Sher- 


lock's^ where we Ihali fee natural religion t e c t. 
beautifully perfonified, and be able to judge 
from it pf the fpirit and grace which this 
Figure, when well conduced, beftows on a 
difcourfe. 1 muft take notice, at the fame 
tinne> that it is'an inftance of this Figure, car-^ 
ried as far as profe, even. in its highcft eleva- 
tion, will admit, and, therefore, fuited only td 
connpofitions where the great efforts of elo- 
quence are allowed* The author is com- 
paring together our Saviour and Mahomet : 
•^ Go,** fays he, " to your Natural Religion ; 
*' lay before her Mahomet, and his difciples, 
*' arrayed in armour and bl6od, riding in 
^^ triunniph over the fpoils of thoufands who 
** fell by his viftorious fword. Shew her the 
«* cities which he fet in flames, the countries 
•* which he ravaged and dcftroyed, and the 
** miferable diftrefs of all the inhabitants of 
«< the earth. When fhe has viewed him in 
*' this fcene, carry her into his retirement; 
«' fhcw her the Prophet's chamber ; his con-' 
^* cubines and 4iis wives ; andlet her hear him 
*/ allege revelation, and a divine commifiion, 
^« to juftify his adultery and luft. Whien fhc 
«^ is tired with this profpeft, then (hew her 
"the blefied Jefus, humble arid meek, doing 
** good to all the fons of men. Let her fee him 
** in his moft retired privacies ; let her follow 
**. him to the^ mount, mA h^ar his devotions 
** and fupplications to God, Carry her to 

6 " his 



LECT. 99 Im table, to view his poor fare; and heaf 
•' his heavenly difcourfe. Let her attend him 
*^ to the tribunal, and confidcr the patience 
«^ with which he endured the feoffs and re- 
*^ proaches of his enemies. Lead her to his 
" crofsj let her view him in the agony of 
" death, and hear his laft prayer for his per- 
*^ fecutors ; Father, forgive them, for tbey knoixf 
*^ not v>bat tbey do /—When Natural Religion 
*^ has thus viewed both, alk her. Which is the 
<^ Prophet of God ? Biit her anfwer we have 
** already had, when flie faw part of this fccne, 
^* through the eyes of the Centurion, who at- 
f * tended at the crofs. By hin^i flie ipoke, and 
" faid, l^ruly, this Man nvas the Son ofGod^.'* 
This is more than elegant; it is truly fublime* 
The whole pa0age is animated; and the 
Figure rifes at the conclufion> when Natural 
Keligion, who, before, was only a fpe&acor, 
is introduced as fpeakibg by the Centurion's 
voice. It has the better effeft too, that it oc- 
curs at the concluddn of a difcouric, where 
we naturally look for moft warmth and dig^ 
nity. Did Biihop Sherlock's fermons, or> 
indeed, any Engliih fermons whatever* afibrd 
us ma^iy palTagps equal tp thiSj we Chouldofttier 
have recourfe to them fqr toltan<:es of the 
beauty of Compofition. 

<■ I 





Hi«iBRTO wc have fpokcn of profc ; in i* JJ; t* 
poetry^ FerfoniBcations of this kind are cx« 
tremely frequent^ and arCj indeed^ the life and 
foul of it. Wc cxpcft to find every thing 
animaied in the defcriptions of a poet who has 
a lively fancy. Accordingly Homer, the fa* 
ther and prince of poets^ is rcnnarkable for the 
life of this Figure. War, peace, darts, fpears, 
towns, rivers, every thing, in ihort, is alive 
in his writings. The Came is the cafe with 
Milton and Shakefpeare. No Perfonification, 
in any author, 13 more ftriking, or introduced 
pn a niQre proper occafion, than the following 
of Milton's, on occafion of Eve's eating the 
forbidden fruit s 

So faying, her raft band, in evil hour 
Forth reaching to the fruir, ihe pluck'd^ (he eat; 
Earth felt the wound ; and Nature, from her feat 
SigHing, through all her works, gave Agns of woe. 
That all was loft.— ix. 780. 

All the circumftances and ages of men, pof 
verty, riches^ youth, old a^e, all the difpo- 
fitions and pafllons, rpelancholy^ love, grief, 
contentmpnt, are capable of b^ing perfonified 
in poetry, with great propriety » Of this, we 
meet with frequent icxanDples in Mikon's Al- 
legro and Penfcrofo, ParneW's Hynm to 
Contentment^ ThonSfon's Se^fons, and all 
the good poets : nor, indeed, is it eafy to fct 
any bounds to FerfoniBcations of this Icind^ 

in poetry. 




h B^c T. One of the grcateft plcafures we rccebFC frorti 
poetry, is, to find ourfclves always in the 
midft of our fellows 5 and to fee every thing 
chinking, feeling, and a£ting, a^ we. ourfelves 
do. Tiiis is, perhaps, the principal charm of 
this fort, of figured ftyle, that it introduces 
us into fociety with all nature, and interefts 
us, even in inanimate objeds, by forming a 
connefkion between them and us, through 
that fenfibility which it afcribes to them. 
This is exemplified in the following beautiful 
paflfage of Thomfon^s Summer, wherein the 
life which he beftows upon all nature, when 
def£ribing the efFcfts of the rifing fun, ren- 
ders the fcenery uncommonly gay and inte«* 

But yonder comes the powerful king of day 
Rejoicing in the eaft. The leflening cloud. 
The kindling azure, and the mountain's brim 
Tipt with ^ethereal gold, his near approach 
. Betoken gUd.- 

By thee refined. 

In brifker meafures, the relucent ftream 
Frilks o*er the mead. The precipice abrupt^ 
ProjeAing horror on the blacken'd flood, 
Softens at thy return. The defart joys. 
Wildly, through all his melancholy bounds* 
Rude ruins glitter; and the briny deep, 
Seen from fome pointed promontory's top^ 
RefleAs from every fludluating wave, 
A glance c'xtcnfive as the day. 



Theiame efFeft is remarkable in that fine |)af- l £ c t. 
foge of Milton ; 

— To the nuptial bower^ 

I led her tlufhing like the morn. All heaven 
And happy conftellations, on that hour^ 
Shed their feledteft inlluehce. The earth 
Gave figns of gratulatloh, aiid each h^lL 
Joyous the birds : frcfli gales, and gentle airs 
Whifpered it to the woods, and from their wings 
Flung rofe, flung odour from the fpicy (hrub^' 
Difporting. ■ ■ 

The third and higheft degree of thiis I^igur* 
remains to be mentioned, when inanimate ob* 
jefts are introduced, not only as feeling and 
a£ting, but as fpeaking to us, or hearing and 
liftening when we addrefs ourfelves to them* 
This, though on feveral occafions far from 
being unnatuVal, is, however^ more difficult 
in the execution, than the other kinds of Per- 
Ibnificatipn* For this is plainly the boldeftof 
all rhetorical Figures ; it is the ftyle of ftrong 
paffion onlyi and, therefore, never to be at- 
tempted, unlefs when the mind is confider- 
ably heated and agitated. A flight Perfoni- 
fication of fome inanimate thing, ading as if 
it had life, can be reliflied by the mind> in 
the midfl of cool defcription, and when its 
ideas are going on in the ordinary train. But 
it mud be in aftateof violent emotion^ and 
have departed confiderably from it$ common 

Vol. I. E c track 


L E c T. track of thou^t^ before it can fo far realife 
the Ferfonification of an infenfible objea^ a» 
to conceive it liftcning to what we fay, or 
making any return to us. All 'ftrong paffions, 
however, have i tendency to ufe this Figure >. 
not only love> i^nger, and indighation, but 
even thofe which arc feeaiingly more difpirit- 
ing, fach as, grjpf, remorfe> and naelancholy. 
For all pafllooi ftruggle. for vent, and if they 
can find no Qther objeft,. will^ rather than be 
lilent, pour tbemfelves forth to woods^ and 
rocks, and. the moft iafenfible things; efpe- 
cially, if thefe be in any degree connected with 
the caufes and pbjeifls that have thrown the 
iQind into this s^tation. HeQpf, in poetry, 
wji^re the greateft liberty is allowed to the 
language of paffion, it is eafy to produce 
many beautiful examples of this Figure. Mil- 
ton aSbrds us an extremely fine on€> in that 
. moving and. tender addrefs which Eve makes 
io Paradife, jufl: before ihe h compelled to 
leave jc. 

Ofa ! unexpcfied ftroke, worfe thai^ of death ? 
Muft I thus leave thee, Paradife ! thus leave 
Thee, native foil, thefe happy walks, and fhades^ 
Fit haunt of God$ ! where I had hope to fpend 
Quiet, though fad, the tcfjpltt of that day. 
Which muft be mortal to us both. O iiowtrs ! 
That nev^r will in other climate groWf 
My early viiitation, and noy laft 
At ev'% Which I bred up with tender han^ 


Frpun your firft qp'ni^ig bit^s , an^ gave you n^mes 1 I. e c t. 

Who now fliall rear yo^, tp (l^e futi) pr rank 
Yqur tribes, and water frpm th' ambrofial fount ? 

Book 11. |. 2^8. 

Thifi is altogether the language of nature, and 
of female paQIon. It is obfervable, tfiat all 
plaintive paffions are peculiarly prone to the 
u(b of this Figure. The complaints which 
PhilaS:et«fi, in Sophocles, pours out to the 
rocks and caves of Lemnos, amidft the excefs 
ef his grief and defpair, are remarkably fine 
examples of it ^» And there are freauenc ex* 
amples, not in poetry only but in real life^ 
of perfoBS, when juft about to fuffer death, 
faking a paffionate farewel of the fun, moon, 
and ftars, os; other fenfible objedls around 

Therk are two great rules for the manage- 
ment of this fort of iPerfonification. Thf 
Hrft rule is, never to ^tten>pt it, unlefs when 

• r 

^* ff)y9|3Qt9ia3» riv^s, rocks» and fa^^gp hetdt, 
ff To y9¥ I ^P^ • ^0 yo^ ^l9ac» i now 
** M^& \^rc3xh/6 tfiy ((Kfo^ys I ypo p^e v^oiijt ^ ]p^ar 
" My fad complaiots, and I will tell )roa all 
*" Jhu I hay^ /td&red fcom AcUUts^ Ton l'^ 

E e 2 proaipted 



L E 

f^ '*'• prompted by ftrong paflion, and never to 
continue it when the paflion begins to flag. 
It is one of thofc high ornaments, which can 
only find place in the mod warm and fpirited 
parts of compofition j and there, too, miift bt 
cmpioyed with moderation. 


The fecond rule isj never to perfopify any 
obje(fl in this way, but fuch as has fome dignity 
in itfelf, and can make a proper figure in this, 
deration to which we raife it. The obfervancc 
of this rule is required, even in the lower de- 
grees of Perfonification j but ftill more^ when 
an ^ddrefs is made to the perfonificd objcft. 
To addrefs the corpfe of ^ deceafed friend, is 
natural ; but to addrefs the clothes which he 
wore, inrroduces mean and degrading ideas. 
So alfo, addrefllng the fcveral parts of one's 
body^ as if they were animated, is not con- 
gruous to the dignity of paflion. For this 
reafon, I muft condemn the following paflage, 
in a very beautiful Poem of Mr. Pope*s,-Eloifa 
to Abelard. 


Dear fatal name ! reft ever unreveard, 
Nor pafs thefe lips in holy filence feal'd. 
Hide it, luy heart, within that clofe difguife, 
yVhel-e, mixM with God^s, his lov'd idea lies : 
Oh ! write it not, my hand !— his name appears 
Already written-^ Blot it out, my tears ! 

Here are feveral different obje^s and parts of 
the body perfonified -, and each pf them is ad- 



drefled or fpoken to; let us confider with l e c t. 
what propriety. The firft is, the name of 
Abelard : " Dear fatal name ! reft ever," &c. 
To this, no reafonable objeftion cap be made. 
For, as the name of a perfon often ftands for 
the perfon himfclf, and fuggefts the fame 
ideas, it can bear this Perfonification Ayith fufr 
ficicnt dignity. Next, Eloifa fpeaks to her- 
felf ; and perfonifies her heart for this pur- 
pofe : ** Hide it, n)y heart, within th^C 
*' clofe,** &c. As the heart is a dignified part 
of the human frame, and is often put for th^ 
mind, or afFe&ions, this alfo m^y p^fs with- 
out blame. But, when from her heart G[\p 
paflfes to her. hand, and tells her hand not to 
.write his name, this is forced and unnatural ; 
a perfonified hand is low, and not in the ftylp 
of true paflion j and the Figure becomes ftill 
.worfe, when, in the laft place, (he exhorts 
her tears to bjot out what her hand had writ^ 
ten, " Oh ! write it not," &c. There is, in 
thefc two lines, an airof epigrammatic conceit, 
^which native paffipn never fuggefts j an^ 
v{hich is altogether unfuitable to the fcnder- 
ncfs. which breathes through the reft of ths^t 
excellent Poem, 

■ « 

In prpfc compofitions, this Figure requires 
.to be ufed with ftill greater moderation and 
.4elip4cy. • The fame liberty, is not allowed tp 
^l^e iipaginatjon there, as in poetry. The 

E e 3 fanie 

4« pfeiisoKltlfcAtiok. 

L 5.C T. Ami afliftkhtts cannot bfe dbtiin^d fdr i-alfift^ 
piffioh lo its pY(^T hfeight by thfc ftrcfe of 
nurhbcH, ihd thd gldv^ ttf llyle. H6\VfcVfcri 
addrcITes tb ihahirtiatt o^ijeds afte riat fex- 
tludtd frbm )pfofe j blit havfe thtir placfe ofllt 
\h the Wghtir Jetties tof dtA\;6i-y. A )pliWic 
Sjpeak'di- rtiA^ ttn forhfe dCcafiohV very |A-opferi| 
ad'dreft rfeligion "or Vif tub ; bt his AiliVfe cb'on* 
ti-y, oi- forti'e city ^ 'phivihce, %Mch Ms M^- 
ffei'ed i/c'rhi^s fefea^ c&lamitiesi bt- been th* 
rcefi* bf fome mfe'ittbUlMe Jiftiob. Bkft we 
Vhuft reittfeiflbfer, thkt as f\jch kxidreffifs aW' 
•arhbfig thfe highfeft fefibrts tjf fe4o^'tfehcev Afejr 
Ihoutd h'evtir bfe atttenfj^tfed, ufjfefs t>y iftrf^fe 
bF ittore thaft ordinary gitoi'ui. f&r if thlb 
tobtbr faik iA his dfefigA t)f "mbfrinl; xMir ?^aif-» 
lions by thehii ht Is <ftiS^ bf tfei*^ laiighdd at, 
t)f all frigid tHingfe, tWc fttoft M^i6'y kVt tht 
a'ivkward and uhfeafon^ble ate&A^s fUr^t- 
times macfc tbwards ftfch Kih<is 6f PWfetta^^ 
cation-, dptcially if ttey be lofig "cphtinded. 
We fce the Writer or fpefeker toil$Ag^, tfnd Is"- 
bouritig, t6 cxfprefe ttie 4ahgh4ge of fomfe 
paffian, >vhit:h 'hte Neither feels hlmffelfi hi* 
can make us feel. We remain 'not oht^ coldj^ 
but frozen j and are at full leifift-fc t6 cfritioife 
on the ridiculous figure which the perfonified 
obJcCt 'makics, when '^e tlraght to. W^e been 
tr^nfiiorted ^kh a g?6W HfktkWUdfm. «b#rfe 
of the Preiich wrifer!?, ^pii'trcularly B^ffytt 
and Flechicr, in their TdAndhs " Sfw9 Ttiner^ 



oracioas> have attempted and exocutc^d, <^iis l ^ c t. 
Figure, not without warmth ahd dignity* 
Their works arc teceedingly worthy of being 
coofultcd, for inftanocs of this,-. and of fe ve- 
ra! other ornaments of ftyle. Indeed the vi- 
va<:ity and ardour of the French genius is 
mot^ fuit^d to this bold fpecies of oratory, 
than the more <:orre<9: but lefs animated ge-f 
Aius of the Britift, who in their profe works 
very rarely attempt any of the high Figures 
of eloquence*. So much for Perfonifica- 
tions or Profopopceia, in all its different 



♦ III tbc '* OraSfon& Fiioeiires de M. Boflu«t," which 
I cdtikiier as one of <he mafter-pieoes of modern ^kqu^xce, . 
Apoftropilies aod addrefles to perfoniiied ol^dls, fre- 
queocly occur, and apc Supported whh -much fpirit. Thus^ 
for >nftance» in t4ib funeral ^atkm of Mary of Auftria, 
Qaccn of France, ifhe author addrefies Algiers, in the 
profpeft of the advamage whidi the arms of Louis XIV. 
were to gain over it : " Avant lui la France, prefque (kns 
'^ vaiiFeaux, tenoit en vain aux deux mers. Maintenant, 
♦^ on ks voit couvertes -depuis le Levant jufqii'au couchant 
'* de nos flottes vi^orieufes; & la hardiefle Fran^oife port 
par tout la terreur a\»ec'le nom de Louis. Tu cederas, 
tu toflfbetas focis ce vainqueur, Alger! riche des depou* 
*^ illes de la Chretiente. Tu diibis en ton coear avarc, je 
tiens le mer fgus ma loix, et les nations font ma proie. 
La legerete de tes vai/Teaux te donnoit de la confianc?, 
Mais tu te verias attaque dans tes marailles^ comme uo 
'' oiileau ravilTant qu*on iroit chercher parmi fes ]:ocher9» 
'* Sc dans fon nid, ou il partage fpn budn a fes pcttits* 
** Tu rends deja tes efclaves. Louis a brife. les fers, dont 
** tu acablois fes fujets, &c.'* In another paiTage of the 

E e 4 fame 





Apostrophe is a Figure fo much of ^. the 
fame kind, that it will not require many 
words. It is an addrefs to a real perfon ; but- 
one who is either abfent or dead, as if he 
were prefent, and liftening to us. Itjs fo: 
much allied to an addrefs to inanimate objedts 
perfonificd,. that both thefe Figures are fome- 
times called Apoftrophes. However, the. pro- . 
per Apoftrophe is in boldnefs one degree 
lower than the addrefs to perfonified objcfts ; 

fame oration, he thus apoftrophi^es the Ifle of Pheafants, 
which had been rendered famo&s by being the fcene- of 
thofe conferences, in which the treaty of the Pyrenees be- 
tween France and Spain, and the marriage ^of this Prin- 
cefs with the King of France, were concluderf. ** Ifle 
<' pacifique ou fe doiv en t terminer les diHerends do deux 
grands empires a qui tu fers de limites : ifle eternelle- 
ment memorable par les conferences de deucx grands 
*^ miniftres. — Augufle journee ou deux fieres ivations, 
*^ long tems enemis, et alors reconcilees par Marie The* 
** refe s'avanfent far leur confins, lear rois a leur tete, 
*^ Doa plus pour fe combattre, mais pour s'embraiTer.— 
Fetes facrees, mariage fortune^, voile niiptial, bene- 
di£lion, facrifice, puis-je meler aujourdhui vos ceremo- 
^* nies, et vos pompes, avec ces pompes funebres, Sc Ic 
** comble des grandeurs avec leur mines !** In the funeral 
oration cf Henrietta, Queen of England (which is perhaps • 
the nobleft of all his compoiitions), after recounting all (he 
had done to fupport her unfortunate hufband, he concludes 
with this beautiful Apoftrophe : ** O mere ! O femme ! 
•* O reine admirable Sc digne d'une meilleure fortune, fi 
'' les fortunes de la terre etoient quelque chofe ! Enfin il 
•* faut cedcr a votre fort. Vous avez ailez foutenu Petat. 
'* qui eft attaque par une force invincible et divine. II ne 
** refte plus deformais, fi non que vous teniez ferme parmi . 
" fes ruines." 




A P O S T R Q P H fi. ^i 


for it certainly requires a lefs effort of iiYiagl- i# e c r. 
nation to fuppofe perfons prcfcnt who arc 
dead or abfent, than to aninnate infenfible be- 
ings, and dircft our difcourfe to thenn. Both 
Figures are fubjedl to the fame rule of being 
prompted by pafllon, in order to render them 
natural j for both are the langa^e of paflion 
or ftrong emotions only. Among the pqcts 
Apoftrophe is frequent ; as ia Virgil ; 

— — Pereunt Hypanifque Dymafque 

Confix! a fbciis ; nee te, tua plurima, Pantheu 

Labentem pietas, nee ApoUinis infula texit * I 

The poems of Oflfian are full of the moft 
beautiful inftances of this Figure : *' Weep 
*' on the rocks of roaring winds, O maid of 
*' Iniftore ! bend thy fair head over the wavesj^ 
y thou fairer than the ghoft of the hills, when 
^* it moves in a funbeam at noon over the 
^' filence of Morven ! He 'is fallen ! Thy 
*' youth is low j pale beneath the fword of 
«' Cuchullin ! f Qui.n6lilian affords us' a 
very fine example in profe i when in the be- 
ginning of his fixth book, deploring the un-- 
timely death of his fon,# which had happened 
during the courfe of the work, he makes a, 
very moving and tender Apoftrophe to him. 

, * Nor Pantheus ! thee» thy mitre, nor the bands 
Of sLwfi^l PbGebus fav'd from impious hands. 


t Fingal, B. I. 

<^ Nam 


" Nam qo5 ille anitno, qua medtcorum admi-- 

" rationc, menfium ofto vaktodineiti tolit f 

*^ ot me in fopremis confolacus eft ? quatn 

*' etiam jam deficicns, jamque non nofter, ip- 

" fam ilhun aiienatse mentis crrorcm circa 

*" folas literas habuit ? Tuofnc ergo, O meae 

fpes inanes ! labetites ocuios, tmim fogien- 

tcm fpiritum vidi ? Tmim corpus frigidum, 

^' exangue complciajs> animam recipere, au- 

ramque communem haurire ampliu& potui? 

Tcne, confulari nupcr adoptionc ad omnium 

*' fpes honorum patris admotum^ te^ avuooulo 

•* praetori gencrum dcftinatum j te, omnium 

fpe Atticas eloquentise candidatum^ parens 

fuperftes tantum ad poenas amifi ^ !" {a thi$ 




* " With what fpirit, and how much te the admirfttioa 
^ of the phyflcians did he bear throughout eight months 
«* his lingering diftrcfs ? With what tcndtratrention did be 
** iludy, €te« in the lafl eictreitiity^ to cotakftt me f And» 
** when no longer himfelf, how affeding was it to btfhold 
** the difordered efforts of his wandering mind^ wholly 
employed on fubjefls of literature ? Ah t myTrudnited 
and fallen hopes ! Have 1 then beheld your <ik^ng 
** eyesy and heard the loft grcan tfbe £aom tout lipsf 
After having embraced your ct>]d and breathkA body« 
how was it in any power to draw the vital air, or con- 
«* tinoe to drag a miferable life ? When I had juft beheM 
yoQ Taifed 'by confular adoption to the pofpeft uf all 
your 'filther^s hanours, denned to be fon-in-lftwto yoat 
uncle the Praetor, pointed out by general expeflation as 
the ItMxefsful cnvdidscte'forthe priae of Attic eloquence, 
in this moment of your opening honours, mull 1 lofe 
you fc^; ever, and remain an unhappy parent, fnrviving 
•* o. ly to Tuffcr wo^Vf ' 






A p o s lr ii b p ti E. 427 

fy^flagfr, Qijilrtftni^h ftit'wt thfc tiritt ^nitit of l e c r. 
aft orator, ki mtich iis he doe^ d!t#here Aat 
of the cHtic; 

For fuch bald F%ift%s of difedyrfe As Arotig 
PerfOttifiCAtiohSi addreflfes to Jferfofiified oh- 
jaEls, AAd Apoftrophes, tW glowifig imagi- 
Mlioh of the anciei^t OtieMal nations was 
Jwirtictila'rly fitted. iHeiire, ift the facred 
fGriJ>lui-eSjj %^e fiftd Ibfnfe v^f-y iNettiftrkaWe in- 
ftkflcei : ^' O thoii fwe^rd of the Lt^rd ! hbw 
*^ long leiH it bs ci^ them be quiet ? put thy- 
^^ 'felf livp itfto the fcabbard, reft and bt ftill ! 
^« How cto it toe quifct, ftfeitig the L-ord hath 
*^ given it ft chStrge ftgftihft Afl^kelon, and 
*' agiiii^ft iht fca-^ore? there hatli he ap- 
" pointed it */* Inhere is 6nte paffage in par- 
ticulalTy which I itwift hat -omit tb rtiention, 
b'ecawfe it oofltafini & greater ^eAfiblage of 
fublinne idea^, of bold atid daring Figures, 
than is perhaps a;ny whfere to be met with. It 
IS in tht fourteenth chapter of Ifaiah, .where 
the fjrrophet thus defcribfes the fall of the Af- 
fyrian crrtpire: *^ Thou Ihftlt take up this 
** prbverb «gainft the king of Sabylon, and 
*' fa^j h6w hath the opprdflbr ceafed ! the 
*"* golden cky ceafed ! The Lord bath broken 
^* the ftaff of the widced, Mnd the fc^pti^e of 
^^ the rulers. Ht who fmote the people in 
^' Wath with a contimiia^l ftroke : he that naled 

• Jer. xlvii 6, 7. 



'' the nations^ in anger^ is perfecuted, and 
" none hindereth. The whole earth is at reft, 
*' and is quiet : they break forth into Tinging. 
•* Yea the fir-trees rejoice at thee, and the 
.*' cedars of Lebanon, faying, Since thou art 
" laid down, no feller is come up againft us, 
f* Hell from beneath is moved for thee, to 
•* meet thee at thy coming ; it ftirreth up the 
*' dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the 
" earth : it hath raifed up from their thrones 
" all the kings of the nations. All they Ihall 
" Ipeak, and fay unto thee. Art thou alfo be- 
•* come weak as we ? Art thou bcCorpe like 
*^ unto us ? Thy pomp is brought down to 
** the grave, and the noife of thy viols : the 
•' worm is fpread under thee, and the worms 
" cover thee. How art thou fallen from Hca- 
** ven, O Lucifer, fon of the. morningl how 
♦^ art thou cut down to the ground, which 
*^ didft weaken the nations !, For thou haft 
** faid in thine heart, I will afcend into Hea-r 
.*^ ven, I will exalt my throne above the ftars 
•* of God : I will fit alfo upon the mount of 
** the congregation! in' the fides of the north. 
'* I will afcend above the height^ of the 
" clouds, I will be like the Moft High. 
.".Yet thou (halt be brought down to Hell, 
'* to the fides of fhc pit. They that fee thee 
** fliall narrowly look upon thee, .and confidcr 
*' thee, faying, Is this the man th^t made the 
^^ earth to tremble, that did (hake kingdoms ? 

<* that 



that made the world as a wUdernefs% and l e c t. 

' XVI, 

deftroycd the cities thereof? that opened % 
not the houfe of his prifoners ? AH the 
kings of the nations, even all of them lie 
in glory, every one in his own houfe. But 
thou art caft out of thy grave, like an abo- 
minable branch :^And as the jaiment of 
thofc that are flain, thruft through with a 
fword, that go down to the ftones of the, 
pit, as a carcafe trodden under feet." Thi$ 
whole paffage is full of fu blimity. Every ob- 
jeft is animated ; a variety of perfonages are 
introduced : we hear the Jews, the fir-trees, 
and cedars of Lebanon, the ghofts of departed 
Kings, the King of Babylon hinifelf, and 
thofe who look upon his body, all fpeaking iii 
their order, and afting their different parts 
without confufion. - ' • ' 

mn i m i' ti ' ni I i n i^ iiU f j P"iiiii 'I'll liMJUTr 





L 3 c T. \]| r B are (till sng^^tl in the coAfideratioa 
W of Figures of Speech $ which^ as the^r 
4dd rnuch to the beauty of ftyle when pro- 
perly tff^loytd^ and are a.t the fame time 
Hable CQ be greatly alm&d, require a careful 
difcuflion. As it would be tedious to dwell 
on all the variety of figurative exprelCons 
which rhetoricians have enumerated^ I chofe 
to feleft the capital Figures^ fuch as occur 
moft frequently, and to make my remarks on 
^ thefe i the principles and rules laicl down 
concerning them, will fufficiently diref): us to 
the ufe of the reft, either ij^ profe or poetry. 
Of Metaphor, which is the moft common of 
them all, I treated fully ; and in the laft Lec- 
ture I difcourfed of Hyperbole, Perfonifica- 
tion, and Apoftrophe. This Lefture will 
nearly finiih what remains on the head of 

5 Comparison, 

C e M P A R I S O N. 431 

CoMPAitf SON. or Simile, is what I am to i. e c t. 


treat of firft ; ^ Figure frequently empk^ye4 
bpth by Poets and Profe- writers, for the orna- 
ment of Conrjpofitioa. In a former Ledure, 
I <?|iplained fully the difference betwixt this 
and Metaphor. A Metaphor is a comparifon 
impliedj, but not expreHed as fuch -, as when 
I fay, ** Achilles is a Lion," meaning, that 
he refcmbles one in courage or ftrength, A 
Comparifon is, when the refemblance be* 
twecn two objects is exprefiVd in form, and 
generally purfued more fully than the nature 
of a Metaphor admits; as when I fay, " The 
" actions of princes are like thofe great rivers, 
'^ the courfe of which every one beholds, but 
** their fprings have been feen by few." This 
flight inftance will (how, that a happy Com* 
parifon is a kind of fparkling ornament, 
which adds not a little luftre aad beauty tp 
difcourfti and -hence fuch Figuresi are termed 
by Cicero, " Orationis lumina," 

Tre pleafure we take in Comparifons is 
juft and naturak We may remark three dif*- 
ferent iburccs whence ic arifes. Firft, from 
the pleafure which nature has annexed to that 
a6t of the miud by which we compare any 
two objeAs together, trace relemblances 
among thofe that are difFereat, and difierences 
among thofe that, referable each dther; a 
pleafure, the final caufe of whi^h is, to 




t E^ T. prompt us to remark and obfervc, and thereby 
to make us advance in ufeful knowledge! 
This operation of the mind is naturally and 
univerfally agreeable; as appears from the 
delight which even children have in cofxi* 
paring things together, as foon as they are ca-^ 
pable of attending to the objefts that furround 
them* Secondly, The pleafure of Compari*- 
fon arifes from the illuftration which the Simile 
employed gives to the principal objeft; froni 
the clearer view of it which it prefents ; ot 
the more ftrong impreffion of it which it 
ftamps upon the mind : and, thirdly. It arifes 
from the introduftion of a new, and com- 
monly a fplendid objeft, aflbciated to the 
principal one of which we treat; and from 
the agreeable pifture which that objeft pre- 
fents to the fancy j new fcenes being thereby 
brought into view, which, without the afOft- 
ance of this Figure, we could not have en- 

All Comparifons whatever may be reduced 
under two heads, Explaining and Embellifiing 
Comparifons* For when a writer likens the 
objedb of which he- treats to any other thing, 
it always is, or at lead always fhould be, with 
a view either to make us underftand that ob- 
jedb more diftindtly^ or to drefs it up, and 
adorn it. All manner of fubjefts admit of 
Explaining Comparifons, Let an author be 
8 reafoning 


C OM^ ARt sOfli 4)j 

reafoning ever fo ftriditly, or treating the moft l e c t. 
abftrufe point in philofophy, he may very pro- 
perly introduce a Comparifoni merely with a 
view to make his fubjeft better underftood. Of 
this nature^ is the following in Mr. Harris's 
Hermes, employed to explain a very abftrafk 
pointy the diftindiori between the powers of 
fcnfe and imagination in the human mind. 
" As wax/' fays he^ " would not ht adequate 
** to the purpofe of fignatiire, if it had not 
** the power to retain as well as to receive 
the impreflion, the fame holds of the foul 
with refpeft to fenfe and imagination. 
" SeAfe is its receptive power; imaginatiort 
'* its retentive. Had it fenfe without imagi^ 
^^ nation> it would not be as wax, but as wa- 
•^ tcr, where, though all imprcflions be in- 
" ftantly made, yet as foon as they are made, 
'* they are inftantly loft.'* In Comparifons 
of this nature, the underftanding is concerned 
much more than the fancy t arid therefore the 
only rules to be obferved, with refped to them^ 
aj^e^ that they be clear, and that they be ufcful; 
that they tend to render our conception of the 
principal objeft more diftinfti and that they 
do not lead our view afide, and bewilder it with 
any falfe lights 

i8uT cmbellifhing Corinparifons, introduced 
not fo much with a view to inform and in* 
ftruft, aa to adorn the fubjeft of which we 

Vol. I. F f trean 


L E c T. treat, arc thofe with which wc are chiefly coir- 
Cerned at prefent, as Figures of Speech ^ and 
thofe, indeed> which moft frequently occur. 
]^efemblance, as I before mentioned, is the 
foundation of this Figure. Wc rouft not^ 
however, take Refemblance, in too ftrifh a 
fenfe, for aAual fimilitude or Ukenefs of ap- 
pearance* Two objcfts may Sometimes be 
very happily compared to one another, though 
they refemble each other, ftridly fpeaking, in 
nothing ; only, becaufe they agree in the 
eSeds which they produce upon the mind i 
becaufe they raife a train of fimilar, or, what 
may be called, concorda^nt ideas i fo that the^ 
remembrance of the one, when recalled, 
ierves to ftrengthen the impreffion made by 
the other. For example, to defcribe the na* 
ture of foft and melancholy mufic> Oflian 
fays, *^ The mufic of Carryl was, like the 
*^ memory of joys that are paft, pleafant and 
*' mournful to the foul/' This is happy and 
delicate. Yet, furely, no kind of mufic has 
any refemblance to a feeling of the mind> 
fuch as the memory of pafl: joys. Had it 
been compared to the voice of the nightin* 
gale, or the murmur of the ftream, aft it 
would have been by fome ordinary poet, the 
likcnefs would have been more drift ; but, by 
founding his Simile upon the efFedb which 
Carryl's mufic produced, the Poet, while he 
conveys a very tender image, gives us, at 

6 the 


the fame time, a much ftronger imprefllon of *• * ^,'^' 
the nature and ftrain of that mufic : " Like 
" the memory of joys that are paft, plcafant 
'* and mourniiil to the foul." 

Int general, whether Comparifons be found- 
ed on the fimilitude of the two objefts com- 
pared, or on fome analogy and agreement in 
their efFefts, the fundamental rcquifite of a 
Comparifon is, that it (haM ferve to illu^ratc 
the objeft, for the fake of which it is intro- 
duced, and to give us a ftronger conception 
of it. Some little excurfions of fancy may 
be permitted, in purfuing the Simile; but 
they muft never deviate far from the principal 
objeft. If it be a great and noble one, every 
circumftance in the Comparifon muft tend to 
aggrandife it ; if it be a beautiful one, to 
render it more amiable J if terrible, to fill us 
with more awe. But to be a little more par- 
ticular t The rules to be given concerning 
Comparifons, refpeft chiefly two articles -, the 
propriety of their introdudlion, and the nature 
of the obje£ts whence they are taken. 

First, the propriety of their introduftion. 
iProm what has been already faid of Compart- 
fons, it appears, that they are not, like the 
Figures of which I treated in the laft Lee- 
turcj the language of ftrong pafllon. No; 
they are the language of imagination rather than 

Ff2 of 



I- 5,f|,T. of paflion; of an imagination fprightly, indeed^ 
and warmed -, but undifturbed by any violent 
of agitating emotion* Strong paflion is too 
fevere to admit this play of fancy. It has no 
kifure to caft about for refcmbling objefts j 
it dwells on that object which has feized and 
taken poflefilon of the fouK It is too much 
occupied and filled by it, to turn its view 
a£de, or to fix its attention on any other 
thing. An author, therefore, can fcarcely 
commit a greater fault, than, in the midil of 
paf&on, to introduce a Simile. Metaphorical 
e^cpreflion may be allowable in fuqh a fitua-» 
tion ; though even this may be carried too 
far : but the ponrip and folemnity of a formal 
Comparifon is altogether a ftranger to paffion. 
It changes the key in a moment j relaxes and 
brings down the mind ', and {hews u^ a writer 
perfeftly at his eafe, while he is perfonating 
fome other, who is fuppofed to be under the tor- 
ment of agitation. Our writers of tragedies 
are very apt to err here. In fome of Mr. 
llowe*s plays, thefe flowers of Similies have 
been ftrewed unfeafonably. Mr. Addifon's 
Cato, too, is jufl:ly cenfuraWe in this refpedt; 
as, when Portius> j^uft after Lucia had bid 
him farewel for ever, and when he ftiould na- 
turally have been reprefented as in the moft 
violent anguifh, mak^s his reply iii a ftudied 
and affcfted Comparifon : 


comparison; 4J7 

Thus o'er the dying lamp th' unfteady flame L E c r. 

Hang& quiv'ring on a point, leaps off by fits, xvii. 

And falls again, as loth to quit its hold. 

Thou muft not go ; my foul ftill hovers o'er thee. 

And can't get loofe. 

Every one muft be feniiblc, that this is quite 
remote from the language of Nature on fuch 

However, as Comparifon is not the ftylc 
of ibrong paflion, fo neither, when employed 
for embellifliment, is it the language of a 
mind wholly unmoved. It is a Figure of 
dignity, and always requires fome elevation 
in the fubjeft, in ord«r to make it proper.: 
for it fuppofes the imagination to be uncom- 
monly enlivened, though the heart be hot 
agitated by palfion. In a word, the proper 
place of Comparifons lies in the middle re- 
gion between the highly pathetic, and the very 
humble ftyle. This is a wide field, and gives 
ample range to the Figure, But even this 
field we muft take care not to overftock witli 
it- For, as was before faid, it is a fparkling 
ornament j and all things that fparkle, dazzle 
and fatigue, if they recur too often. Similics 
fliould, even in poetry, be ufcd with modera- 
tion i but, in profe writings, much more : 
otherwife, the ftyle will become difagreeably 
florid, and the ornament lofc its virtue and 

F f 3 I PROCEED., 



L E c T. I PROCEED^ ncxt, to the rules that relate to 
obje£ts> whence Comparifons Ihould be drawn s 
fuppofing them introduced in their proper 

In the firft place, they muft not be drawn 
from things, which have too near and obvious 
a refemblance to the objeA with which w.e 
compare them. The great pleafure of the 
aft of comparing lies, in difcovering like* 
neifes among things of different fpecies, wherie 
we would not, at the firft glance, expeft a 
refemblance. There is little art or ingenuity 
in pointing out the refemblance of two ob- 
jedts, that are fo much a-kin, or lie fo near 
to one another in nature, that every one fees 
they muft be like. When Milton compares 
Satan's appearance, after his fall, to that of 
the Sun fufiering an eclipfe, and affrighting 
the nations with portentous darknefs, we are 
ftruck with the happinefs and the dignity of 
the fimilitude. But, when he compares Eve's 
bower in Paradife, to the arbour of Pomona s 
or Eve herfelf, to a Dryad, or Wood-nymph, 
we receive little entertainment; as every one 
fees, that one arbour muft, of courfe, in fe- 
vcral rcfpefts, refemble another arbour, and 
one beautiful woman anothei* beautiful woman. 

Amono Simiiies faulty ttirQugh too gre^t 
obvioufncfs of the likcncfs, we muft likewife 


C O M P A R I S ON, 439 

rank thofe which are taken from objcfts be- l ^ c t, 
come trite and familiar in poetical language. 
Such are the Similies of a hero to a lion, of a 
perfon in forrow to a flower drooping its head, 
of violeiit paffion to a tempeft, of chaftity to 
fnow, of virtue to the Sun or the ffars, and 
many more of this kind, with which we are 
furc to find modern writers, of fecond-rate ge- 
nius, abounding plentifully; handed diown 
from every writer of verfes to another, as by 
hereditary right. Thefe Corhparifons ' were, 
at firft, perliaps, very proper for the purpofes 
to which they are applied. In the antient 
o^ihal poets, who took them diredly from 
nature, not from their predeceffors, they had 
beauty. But they arc now beaten ; our ears 
are fo accuftomed to them, that they give no 
amufement to the fancy. There is, indeed, 
do mark by which we can .more readily diilitt- 
gui(h a poet of true genius, from one of a 
barren imagination, than by the (train of their 
Comparifons. All who call themfelves poets 
aflfeft them : but, whereas a mere verfifier 
copies no new image from nature, which ap- 
pears, to his uninventive genius, exhauiled 
by thofe who have gone before him, and, 
ttierefore, contents himfelf with humbly fol- 
lowing their track ; to an author of real fancy^ 
nature feems to unlock, fpontaneoufly, her 
hidden ftores ; and the eye, '* quick glancing 
** from earth to heaven," difcovers hew lhape& 

F f 4 and 


L E c T. and forms, new likcnelfcs hct^ten objcfts un» 


obfcrved before, which render hi$ Similies 

origifiaU expreffive, and lively. 

But, in the fecond place, as Comp&riibm^ 
ought not to be founded on Jikeneffes too ob« 
vious, ftill lefs ought they to be founded on 
thofe which are too faint and remote. For 
thefe, in place of afflfting, ftrain the fancy to 
comprehend them, and throw no light upon 
the fubjed. Jt is alfo to be obfcrved, ithat a 
Comparilbn which, in the principal circum-r 
itances, carries a fufficiently near refembiancei 
may become unnatural and obfcure, if pull^ 
too far. Nothing is more oppoGte to the de- 
fign of chis l^igure^ than to hunt after .a great 
number of coin<:i^ences in minute points, 
merely to (hew how far the poet's wit caq 
ftrctch the refembiance. This is Mr. Cowley's 
common fault i whofe Comparifons generally 
run out fo far, as to become rather a ftudie4 
exercife of wit, than an illuftrauon of th^ 
principal objed. We need only open his 
works, hh odes efpecially^ to find inftance^ 
every where/ 

In the third place, the objeft from which, 
^ Comparifpn is drawn, flaould never be aii 
unknown objedt, or one of which few people 
can form clear ideas : " Ad inferendam rebus 
<< lygem/' fays Quindtilian, " repcrtac funt 

" fimi- 

C O M P A R 1 S ». ^0 

^ fitnilitudincs. Praacipuc, Igitur, eft qjftow t « c t. 
" diendum Jie id quod ' fimUitudinis gratia ^^"' 
^' afcivimus^ aiit obfcurum fit, aut ignotum. 
*' Debet enim id quod iliuftrandje alterius rei 
*^ gratia affufnkur, ipfuna cflc clarius eo quo4 
** illuminatur *.'* Comparifons, therefore, 
founded on philofophical dtfcoveries, or oti 
any thing with which perfotis of a certain trade 
ondy> or a certain profeflion, are converfant, 
attain not* the4r proper efieft. They (hould 
be taken froftn Jthofe illuftrious, noted obje6l^, 
wWch moft of the readers either have feen, or 
can ftrongly conceive. This leads nne to re- 
mark a fault of which noodern poets are very 
' apt' to be guilty. The antients took their 
Similies from that face of nature, and that 
clafs of objefts, with which they and their 
readers were acquainted. Hence lions, and 
wolves, and ferpents, were fruitful, and very , 
proper fources of SiniUies amongft them ; and 
thefe having become a fort of confecrated, 
claflical irnages, are very commonly adopted 
by the -moderns i injudiciouHy however, for 

* ** Comparifons liave been introduced into difcourfe, 
"<* for the /kke of throwing light on the fubje^. We mtiH, 
^* therefore, be much on e>ur gQ^rd, not to employ^ as the 
** ground of our Simile, any object which is eixher obicuM 
'< or unknown. That, furely, wlilch is ufed for the pur- 
«* pofe of iHuftrating fome other thing, oughl to be more 
** obvious and plain, thdto the thing intended to bt !!• 
•« luftrai^d," 



L % c 7, the propriety of them is now in a great mea- 
fure loft. It is only at fecond hand^ and by 
defcription, that we are acquainted with many 
of thofe ' objeAs ; and, to moft readers of 
poetry, it were more to the purpofc, to de- 
fcribe lions, or ferpents, by Similies taken 
from men, than to defcribe men by lions, 
^ Now* a- days, we can more eafily form the 
conception of a fierce combat between two 
men, than between a bull and a tyger. Every 
country has a fcenery peculiar to itfelf $ and 
the imagery of every good poet will exhibit 
it. The introduction of unknown objedts, or 
of a foreign fcenery, betrays a poet copying, 
not after nature, but from other writers. I 
have only to obferve further, 

'.. - r , • , , 

In the fourth plac*$£tha;c, in compofitions 
of a ferious or elevated kind, Similies fhould 
never be taken from loiw or mean obje&s. 
Thefc are degrading; whereas, Similies are 
commonly intended to embellilh, and to dig* 
nify : and, therefore, unlefs in burlefque writ- 
ings, or where Similies are introduced pur- 
pofely to vilify and diminiih an objedfc, mean 
ideas ihould never be prefented to us. Some 
of Homer's Comparifons have been taxed 
without reafon, on this account. For it is to 
be remembered, that the meannefs or dignity 
of qbjedhs depends, in a great degree, on the 
ideas and manners of the age wherein we 





live. Many Similies, therefore, drawn from ^J^f,*^- 
the incidents of rural life, which appear low to 
US| had abundance of dignity in chofe fimpler 
ages of antiquity. 

I HAVE now confidered fuch of the Figures 
of Speech as feemed moft to merit a full and 
particular difcuflion : Metaphor, Hyperbole, 
Perfonification, Apoftrophe, and Comparifon. 
A few more yet remain to be mentioned -/ the 
proper ufe and conduft of which will be 
cafily underftood from the principles already 
laid down. 


As Comparifon is founded on the refem*- 
blance, fo Antithefis on the contrail or oppo« 
fition of two objeds. Contraft has always 
this eSed, to make each of the contrafted ob- 
jects appear in the ftronger light. White, 
for inftance, never appears fo bright as when 

it is oppofed to black; and when both are 
viewed together. Antithefis, therefore, may, 
on many occafions, be employed to ad van- 
.tage, in order to ftrengthen the impreifion 
which we intend that any objeffc fhould make. 
Thus Cicero, in his oration for Milo, repre- 
fenting the improbability of Milo's forming 
g defign to take away the life of Clodius, at 
9 time when all circumftances were unfavour- 
able to fuch a defign, and after he had let 
other opportunities flip, when he could have 




h l^c'T. executed the fame dcfigii, if he had formed it, 
with much more eafe and fafety^ heightens ow 
conviftion of this improbability by a ikilful 
life of this Figure : " Quem igitur cum om- 
•* nium gratia interficcre noluit, hunc voluit 
** cum aliquorum querelS ? Quern jure, quem 
*^ loco, quem tempore, qiiem impune^ non eft 
"aufus, hunc injuria, iniquo loco, alieno 
** tempore, pcriculo capitis, noa dubitavit 
<« occidere * ?" In order to render an Ann- 
thefis more compkte, it is always of advan* 
tage, that the words and members of the fcn^ 
tence, expreffing the contrafted objeds, bc> as 
in this inftance of Cicero's, fimilarly con- 
ftrudtcd, and made to correfpond to each 
other. This leads us to remark the cootraft 
more„ by fetting the things which we oppole 
more clearly over agai«ft each other ij in the 
fame manner as when we contraft a black 
and a white objeft, in order to perceive the 
full difference of their colour, we would chufc 
to have both objeds of the ianrie bulk, and 

* «* Is It credible that, when he dedined puttii^g Cld- 
** dius to death with the confent of aU> he; would choTe 
'* to do it with the difapprobation of many ? Can you he- 
** live that the^perfon whom he fcrupled to flay, when he 
♦* might have done fo with fall juftice, in a convenient 
*' place, at a proper time, mth fecure impanity, he made 
** no fcruple to murder againfl jaftice, in an unfavourable 
*' place, at an unfeafonabj^ tiifie, aad at the rif<}ue.of ca- 
V pital condemnation V* 



A N T I T H E S I $• 445 

placed in the fame light. Their j-efehnblance l £ c t. 
to each other, in certain circumftances, makes 
their difagreement in oxhers more palpable« 

At the fame time, I muft obferve, that the 
frequent ufe of Antithefis, efpecially where the 
oppofition in the words is nice and quaint, is 
apt to render ftyle difegreeable. Such a {cn^ 
tence as the following, from Seneca, does 
very well, where it (lands alone : /* Si quem 
** voluefis efle divitem, non eft quod augeas 
^^ divitias, fed minuas cupiditates *." Or 
this : '* Si ad naturam vives, nu^iquam eris 
pauper ; fi ad epinionem, nunquam di- 
ves f .'* A maxim, or moral faying, pro-^ 
perly enough receives this form j both be* 
caufe it is fuppofed to be the fruit of medita- 
tion, and becaufe it is defigned to be en- 
graven on the memory^ which recalls it more 
eafily by the help of fuch contrafted expref- 
fions. But where a ftringof fuch fentenccs 
fucceed each other j where this becomes an 
author's favourite and prevailing manner of 
exprefllng himfelf, his ftyle is faulty; and it 
is upon this account Seneca has been often, 

^ ** If yott feekto makeonrc rich, ftody not to iacreafe 
'^ his ftox««« but to dimiqiiH U/^ deiires.'' 

f " If you ttgnlut your dcfires according to the ftand- 
^* ard of aatuicy yoti wSI ntrtt be poDi ; if according 
** ta the ftaadardt olfifinUvif yoa will never he rich." 




L E c T. and juftly, cenfured. Such ^ ftyle appears 
*^"' too ftudied and laboured j it gives us the im- 
preflion of an author attending more to his 
manner of faying things^ than to the things 
themlelves which he fays. Dn Young, though 
a writer of real genius, was too fond of Anti* 
thefes. In his Eftimate of Human Life, we 
find whole pages that run in fuch a (train as 
this : ^* The peafant complains aloud ; the 
** courtier in fccret repines. In want, what 
** diftrefs ? in affluence, what fatiety^ The 
'^ great are under as much difficulty to expend 
'^ with pleafure, as the mean to labour with 
*• fuccefs. The ignorant, through ill ground- 
'^ ed hope, are difappointed ; the knowing, 
*^ through knowledge, defpond. Ignorance; 
<f occafions miftake^ miftake, difappointment; 
** and difappointment is mifcry. Knowledge, 
** on the other hand, gives true judgment j 
'^ and true judgment of human things, gives 
«' a demonftration of their infufficiency to our 
** peace." There is too much glitter in fuch 
a ftyle as this to pleafe long. We are fatigued, 
by attending to fuch quaint and artificial fen- 
tences often repeated. 

Thbre is another fort of Antithcfis, the 
beauty of which confifts in furprifing us by 
the unexpected contrafts of things which it 
brings together. Much wit may be fliewn in 
this ; but it belongs wholly to pieces of pro- 



ifefled wit and humouf, and can find no place l £ c r. 


in grave compofitioDS. Mr. Pope, who is 
remarkably fond of Antithefis, is often happy 
in this ufe of the Figure. So, in his Rape of 
the Lock : 

Whether the nymph (hall break Diana's law. 
Or fome frail china jar receive a flawj 
Or ftain her honour, or her new brocade ; 
' Forget her prayers, or mifs a mafquerade ; 
Or lofe her heart, or necklace, at a ball. 
Or whether heaven has doom'd that Shock muft fall. 

What is called the point of an epwgram, con- 
fifts, for moft part, in fome Antithefls of this 
kind / furprifing us with the fmart and unex* 
pc&ed turn, which it gives to the thought 5 
and in the fewer words it is brought out, it is 
always the happier. 

Comparisons and Antithefes are Figures of 
a cool nature ; the produfbions of imagination, 
not of pafllon. Interrogations and Exclama- 
tions, of which I am next to fpeak, are paf- 
fionate Figures. They are, indeed, on fo 
many occafions, the native language of paf- 
fion, that their ufe is extremely frequent j and, 
in ordinary converfation, when men are heated, 
they prevail as much as in the moft fublimc 
oratory. The unfigurcd, literal ufe of In- 
terrogation, i^, to aik a queftion j but when 
niea arc prompted by paflion, whatever they 


w ^ 


t' t c T. would affirm, or deny, with great vehemence, 
*^'^' they naturally put in the form of a qucftion ; 
cxprefling thereby the ftrongeft confidence of 
the truth of their bwft fentinient, and appeal- 
ing to their hearers for the impoflibility of the 
contrary. Thus, in Scripture : ** God is not 
" a man that he Ihould lie, neither the fon of 
'* man that he fliould repent. Hath he faid 
" it ? and Ihall he not do it ? Hath he Ipoken 
" it ? and ihall he not make it good * ?'* So 
Demofthcnes, addreffing himfelf to ihe Athc* 
ftians :- ." Tell me, will you ftill go about 
•^ and alk one anQther> what news ? What 
" caa be more aftonilhing news than this, 
*5 that the man of Macedo^ makes war"^pon 
*' the Alheniaqs> and difppfes of the affairs 
*^ of Greece ?— Is Philip dead ? No, but he is 
fick. What Iignifies it to yau whether he 
be dead or alive ? For, if any thing hap* 
petls to this Philip, you will imnoediately 
raife up another.*' All this delivered with-^ 
out Interrogation, had been faint and inefFec-* 
tuali but the Warmth and eagcrnefs which 
this queftionirig method exprefTes, nwakens 
the hearers, and ftrikes thom with much greatei' 

* ' " * . ' * ■ 

iNTBRRQCATiofJs may oftcn be employed 

ivith propriety, inr thjc courfe of no higher 

* Nttmbers^ chap, xxili. 1rer« 19. 

8 emotions 



enootions than naturally arife in purfuing fomc l k c T. 
clofe and earneft reafoning. But Exclamations 
belong only to ftronger emotions of the mind ; 
to furprife, admiration, anger, joy, grief, and 
the like : 

Heu pietas ! heu prifca fides ! invi£laque bello 
Dextera I 

Both Interrogation and Exclamation, and, in- 
deed, all paflionate Figures of Speech, operate 
upon us by means of fympathy. Sympathy is 
a very powerful and extenfive principle in our . 
nature, difpofing us to enter into every feeling 
and paffion, which we behold expreffed by 
others. Hence, a fingle perfon coming into 
company with ftrong marks, either of melan- 
choly or joy, upon his countenance, will dif- 
fufc that paffion,' in a moment, through the 
whole circle. Hence, in a great crowd, paf- 
Iions are fo eafily caught, and fo fad; fpread,. 
by that powerful contagion which the animated 
looks*, cries, and gcftures of a multitude never 
fail to carry. Now, Interrogations and Ex- 
clamations, being natural figns of a moved 
and agitated mind, always, when they are pro- 
perly ufed, difpofe us to fympathifc with the 
difpofitions of thofe who ufc them, and ta.fecl 
as they feel. 

From this it follows, that the great rule 

with regard to the condudt of fuch Figures is, 

Vol. I. G g that 



L T c T that the writer attend to the mantitr in which 
nature diftates to us to exprels any emotion or 
pailion, and that he give his language tbae* 
turn^ and np other ^ abqve all, thst^he ne^er* 
affcft the ftyle of a paflion which he docs not. 
feel. With Interrogations he may .ufe a good 
deal of freedom i thefe, as above obferved, 
falling in fo much with the ordinary courfe of 
language and reafdning, even when bo great" 
vehemence is fuppofed to have plac€ in the 
mind. But, with rcfpc£l to Exclamations^ he 
muft be more referved. * Nothilig ha& a worfe. 
effeft than the frequent and unfeafonablc ufe. 
of them. Raw, juvenile writers imagine, that> : 
by pouring them forth often, they render: theirs 
compofitions warm and animated. Whereas- 
quite the contrary follows. They render it 
frigid to excefs. When, a^ author is always 
calling upon us to enter into tranfports which 
he has faid nothing to inf|rire, we are both dif- 
guftcd and enraged at him. He raifes no fym- 
pathy, for he gives us no paffion pf his own, 
in. which ^e can take part.'. He' giv^es ms: 
words,. ajod jBOt. paflion^ and, of courfe, can; 
faife no paflion, unlefs that of indignation. 
Hence, I am inclined to tliink, hq was not. 
muckmiflraken, who faid, that when, on look- 
ing into a book, he found the pages thick* 
befpangled with the point which is called, 
" Pun(9iim admirationis," he judged this ho 
be a fufficient reafon for his laying it afide^ 
.6 And, 


And, indeed, were it not for the help of this ^ ^ ^ t. 
*^ punftiim adaiirationis," with which many ■_. ^ * y 
writer^ of the rapturous kind ib nnuch abound, 
one would be often at a lofs to difcover, whe- 
ther or not it was Exclamation which they 
aimed at. For, it has now become a faihion, 
aniong chefe writers, to fubjoin points of ad- 
miration to fentences, which contain nothing 
but fimple affirmations, or propofitions ; as if, 
by an afFcfted method of pointing, they couM 
transforrh them in the reader's mind into high 
Figures of eloquence. Much a-kiq to this, 
is another contrivance pradtifed by fome 
writers, of feparating almoft all the members 
of their fentences from each other, by blank 
lines ; as if, by fetting them thus afunder, 
they beftowed fome fpecial importance upon 
ithem s and required us, in going along, to 
make a paufe at ev^ry other word, and weigh 
at well. This, I think, may be called a Ty- 
pographical Figure of Speech. Neither, in- 
deed, fince we have been led to mention th^ 
arts of writers for increafing the importance of 
their words, does another cuftom^ which pre- 
vailed very much fome time ago, feem worthy 
of imitation ; I mean that of diftinguilfaing 
the fignificant words, in every fentence, by 
Italic charaifkerfi* On fome occafions, it is 
very proper to ufe fuch diftinftions. But 
when we carry them fo far,, as to mark with 
them £very fuppofed emphatical word, thefe 

G g 2 words 


t E c T. words arc apt to multiply fo faft in the author's 
imagination, that every page is crowded with 
Italics; which can produce no effcft what- 
ever, but to hurt the eye, and create confufion. 
Indeed, if the fenfe point not out the mod 
emphatical expreflions, a variation in the type, 
efpecially when occurring fo frequently, will 
give fmall aid. And, accorcjingly, the mod: 
uiafterly writers, of late, have, with good rea- 
fon, laid afide all thofe feeble props of fignifi- 
cancy, and truiled wholly to the weigtit of 
their fentiniients for commanding attention. 
But to return from this digreflion : 

Another Figure of Speech, proper only tq 
animated and warm compofition, is what fome 
critical writers call Yifion ; when, in place of 
relating fomething that is pad, we ufe the 
prefent tenfe, and defcribc it as actually 
pafling before our eyes. Thus Cicero, in his 
fourth oration againft Catiline : '* Videor enim 
'* mihi banc urbem videre, lucem orbis terra- 
*f rum atquc arceni omnium gentium, fubito 
*' uno inccndio concidentcm ; ccrno animo 
'^ fepulta in patria miferos atque infepultos 
" acervos civium i verfatur mihi ante oculos 
" afpcdkus Cechegi, c% furor, in veftra cjede 
" bacchantis *." This manner of defcription 


• ♦* I fccip to myfelf to behold this city, the ornament 
^* of the earth, and the capital of all uauons, fuddenly in- 

** v(>lved 

VISION. 453 

fuppofes a fort of enthufiafm, which carries the i- e c t. 
perfon who dcfcribes in fome meafure out of 
himfclf J and, when well executed, muft needs 
imprefs.the reader or hearer ftrongly, by the 
force of that fympathy which I have before ex- 
plained. But, in order to a fuccefsful execu- 
tion, it requires an uncommonly warm imagi- 
nation, and fuch a happy fcleftion of circum- 
ftances, as (hall make us think we fee before 
our eyes the fcene that is defcribed. Otherwifc, 
it ihares the fame fate with all feeble attempts 
towards paflionate Figures ; that of throwing 
ridicule upon the author, and leaving the reader 
more cool and uninterefted than he was before. 
The fame obfervations are to be applied to 
Repetition, Sufpenfion, Corrcftion, and many 
more of thofe figurative forms of Speech, which 
Rhetoricians have enumerated among the 
Beauties of Eloquence, They are beautiful, or 
i)ot, exactly in proportion as they are native 
e^prefliQns of the fentiment or paflion intended 
to be heightened by them. Let nature and 
pa(&on always fpeal^ their own language, and 
they will fuggcft Figures in abundance. But, 
when we feek to counterfeit a warmth which 
we do not feel, no Figures will cither fupply 
the dcfedt, or conceal the impofture.. 


volved in one conflagration. I fee before me the flaugh- 
tere4 l^f^aps of citii^eqs lying unburied \n the inidft of 
their roiped coan(ry. The furious countenance of Ce- 
thegus rifes ^o my , view, while with a favage joy he is 
triumphing in your miferies.'^ 

, Q Therb 

» - 


, .1* 

L E c T, the purpofcs of cfFcftual perfualiony arc they 
likely to be fo fuccefsful^ as an arrangement 
of circumftances in a lefs artificial order. For, 
when much art appears, we are always put on 
our guard againft the deceits of eloquence; but 
when a fpeakerhas rtaibned ftrongly, and, by 
force of argument, has made good hh main 
pointi he may then, taking advantage of the 
favourable bent of our minds, make ufe of 
fuch artificial Figures to confirm our beMef, 
and to warm our minds. ' 



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